RWANDA – Rwanda’s tea export receipts more than doubled to $18.8 million (Rwf14.9 billion) during the first three months of 2016, up from $7.1 million during the same period last year, a report by the National Agriculture Export Board (NAEB) has indicated.

According to the report, Rwanda exported 6,811,095 million kilos of tea during the first quarter of the year, fetching about $18.8 million.

The performance was largely attributed to the establishment of Muganza Kivu Tea Factory in Nyaruguru District, Southern Province, and three other processing plants in Karongi, Mushubi, and Rutsiro that “were instrumental in encouraging farmers to increase both production and quality”.

NAEB targets to increase tea export earnings to $94.9 million by 2018.

Experts say the performance is a result of efforts by the agro-exports body and stakeholders, particularly investing in distribution of farm inputs, and emphasis on value addition.

NAEB projects production to increase to 3,000 tonnes of dry tea per annum on average.

To achieve this, NAEB has drafted a new tea leaf handling model to boost quality along value chain and enhance the sector’s competitiveness.

Meanwhile, Rwanda’s tea exports increased in both value (40 per cent) and volume (8.9 per cent) in 2015.

The sector fetched almost $73 million (about Rwf57.2 billion) in 2015, up from $52 million in 2014, according to statistics from the central bank.

Tea prices have increased substantially in recent months but is expected to slow down on the account of increasing supply. The price of tea at the Mombasa auction rose marginally in last week’s auction to about $2.1 (about Rwf1,663.2) up from $2 the previous auction.

Rwanda exports its teas through the Mombasa auction.

Overall, commodity prices are expected to keep declining throughout 2016 as oversupply is expected to persist with oil and metals leading the declines.

The UK buys 21.46 per cent of Rwanda’s total tea exports, 21.16 per cent goes to Pakistan, 16 per cent to Egypt, 15.6 per cent to Yemen and 10.6 per cent to Somalia, among other destinations.

Government is counting on its major cash and horticultural crops to boost exports following a global price decline for major minerals.

In 2015, total exports recorded poor performance, dropping by 6.8 per cent in value to stand at $558.8 million from $599.8 million in 2014, while the volume increased by 20.5 per cent.

April 28, 2016;