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Biting dry spell shaves off 18pc from tea exports

A worker at a tea estate in Nandi County. FILE PHOTO | NMG
A worker at a tea estate in Nandi County. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenya’s global tea exports in the first seven months of 2017 dropped 18 per cent following a severe drought that hit output hard.

Statistics from the Tea Directorate indicate the volume of tea exported between January and July declined from 314 million kilogrammes in a similar period last year to 257 million kilos in the period under review.

The directorate attributes the decline in quantities to a fall in production by 18 per cent.

“Production was affected by unfavourable weather conditions experienced during the first quarter of the year that saw volumes drop from 280 million kilogrammes last year between January and July, to 232 million kilogrammes in the corresponding period this year,” says the directorate.

The average price for the first seven months of 2017 was higher at Sh330 per kilo compared with Sh236 for the same period 2016.

“Improved prices to date were attributable to good demand against lower supply of tea in the first quarter of the year due to hot and dry weather conditions,” the report notes.

Local tea consumption for the seven months period up to July 2017 stood at 21.24 million kilos against 16.31 million kilos for the corresponding period of 2016, marking a major increase on domestic uptake of the beverage.

Tea consumption in Kenya has remained low over the years despite efforts by the directorate to promote consumption.

Nearly all the tea produced in Kenya is exported to the world market with Kenyans consuming a paltry five per cent.