Kenya’s tea export volumes increase by 19% despite decline in production

KENYA – Kenya’s tea production in the half-year to June 2021 declined by 26 million Kgs compared to the corresponding period last year on the back of unfavourable weather condition.

This was revealed by the Tea Directorate, indicating that 274 million Kgs of green leaf were delivered to factories between January and June, 9% down from 300 million Kgs in a similar period of 2020.

It attributed the decline in volumes to dry conditions and extremely cold weather that impacted negatively on the crop.

However, there was an increase in export volume of the commodities as traders released more stocks during the period.

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The total volume export in the half-year was 19% higher reaching 290 million Kgs, when compared with 250 million Kgs sold in 2020.

The average price of the leaves at the Mombasa-based auction was US$1.96 per kg, down from US$2.07 per kg in first half 2020.

The price of the commodity declined in the review period from US$1.96 to US$2.07 previously with the decline attributed to an increase in supply in the global market.

Kenya is the world’s biggest exporter of black tea and the commodity is one of its top earners of hard currency.

Pakistan, Egypt, and the United Kingdom were the top buyers of Kenyan tea during the period.

Meanwhile, local sales of the commodity continued to decline as Kenyans cut on tea intake. According to the directorate, the volumes of tea sold locally in the review period declined to 18 million Kgs from 20 million Kgs in the previous season.

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In Kenya, more than 50% of the tea harvest is provided by smallholders. While the government wants to strengthen the sector’s contribution to the economy, access to agricultural inputs for producers is a real challenge.

The Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) has submitted a request to the National Treasury for a grant of US$9 million for the benefit of producers.

According to the organization, this envelope should allow farmers to have access to fertilizers at a cost of Ksh 2,473 for the 50 kg bag.

To access the same amount of fertilizer from the KTDA, they currently have to contend with a tariff of Ksh 3,000, 54% more than last year.

This situation is linked to the increase in the cost of importing the product on the international market due to logistical disruptions which increased the amount of freight as well as the rise in the prices of natural gas and crude oil.

The organization purchased 65,000 tonnes of fertilizer last August at a total cost of US$ 29 million.

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