Kenya registers 13.3% rise in tea export earnings benefiting from high export volumes, weak local currency

KENYA – Kenya’s tea export earnings rose by 13.3% to Ksh 136 billion (US$1.2 billion) in 2021 from Ksh.120 billion (US$1.06 billion) registered the previous year.

The Ksh.16 billion rise in earnings is attributed to higher volumes and a weaker shilling which had lost ground to hit lows of 113 units to the US dollar by end of last year.

“Export volumes stood at 558 million kgs of made against 518 million kgs in 2020 whilst tea export earnings amounted to Ksh136 billion (US$1.2 billion) against Ksh120 billion (US$1.06 billion) in 2020,” TBK reports.

The board, however, notes that earnings from local tea consumption declined to Ksh19 billion (US$167m) against Ksh20 billion (US$176m) realised a year earlier, with total earnings standing at Ksh155 billion (US$1.37 billion).

TBK says that despite the good performance, the tea industry has been facing several challenges which collectively threaten its competitiveness and sustainability.

“These challenges include declining tea prices, low earnings by tea growers especially within the smallholder tea sub-sector, poor corporate governance practices and exploitation of tea farmers by middlemen through green leaf hawking.”

Others include delayed payments to farmers, perceived decline in the quality of Kenyan produce and low levels of value addition and product diversification.

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The regulator is monitoring compliance with good agricultural and manufacturing practices by tea producers and traders to ensure that they adhere to the set standards.

The move will entail the enforcement of the Tea Industry Code of Practice KS-2128 and Food Safety Management System to assists value chain players to improve their operations as well as enhance compliance levels.

The tea board is also undertaking a tea quality monitoring programme that involves observing the quality of Kenya tea against the set standards on physical, microbiological, pesticide residues levels and heavy metal requirements in order to ensure product quality and safety to consumers.

Meanwhile in Uganda, the year 2021 was a promising period for the East African nation as its coffee exports for the 12 months (January 2021-December 2021) amounted to 6,765,428 bags worth US$ 718.57 million.

This was 23.26% and 38.18% higher in both quantity and value respectively, compared to 5,488,927 60-kilo bags valued at US$ 520.01 million sold the previous year 2020.

During the final month, the country fetched US$75.25 million in the export of 536,889 60-kilo bags, registering a 100.64% rise in value compared to December 2020.

The exported amount, which is 28.03% more compared to the same month last year, comprised of 452,55 bags of Robusta valued at US$ 55.26 million and 84,301 bags of Arabica valued at US$ 19.99 million.

The higher income is attributed to improved global coffee prices which were 85 cents higher than US$ 1.49/kilo in December 2020.

The positive trend in global coffee prices is credited to weather related issues in Brazil and shortage of shipping containers which prompted exporters to release their stocks.

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