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Commodities

Tea production rises 41 per cent in six months

:A worker harvests tea leaves at a plantation in Kericho
:A worker harvests tea leaves at a plantation in Kericho. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Tea production in the first half of this year grew by 41 per cent on the back of good weather in the first quarter of this year, resulting in one of the highest volumes witnessed in the recent years.

Industry figures from the Tea Directorate indicate the volumes rose to 300.6 million kilogrammes (kg) in the review period up from 212.6 million kg in the corresponding period last year.

“Unlike other years, commencement of the long rains this year was preceded by a prolonged period of short rains, which contributed to exceptionally higher production during the first quarter,” said the report from the directorate.

However, the directorate says production, which has already started declining in the last three months, will likely remain depressed for the remainder of the year because of the cold season and cessation of rain.

“The second half of the year is expected to register lower production on account of cold weather conditions followed by dry weather,” the regulator said.

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Tea production opened the year on a high of 53.6 million kg in January, but dropped to 49.6 million kg in April and 47 million kg in May before settling at 46.3 million kg last month.

Regions in the East of Rift (Central and Eastern Kenya) registered a big jump in production in June to stand at 14.6 million kilogrammes from 11 million kg in June 2019, while the West of Rift registered a four per cent increase to hit 31.7 million kg from 30.4 million kg.

The smallholder sub-sector contributed significantly to June’s production, accounting for 26.5 million kg of the total 46.3 million kg realised during the month.

On the other hand, plantations— majority made up of multinationals –recorded a five per cent decline to stand at 20.9 million kg.

If the drop in the volumes comes as expected, it can help to lift the prices as high volumes in the first half of the year depressed the cost per unit at the Mombasa auction with a kilo selling at below Sh200 on average.

Small-scale tea earnings dropped by 22 per cent to Sh69.7 billion in the financial year ended June 2019, the lowest returns in the last six years.

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