SUDAN – Sudan, one of the major buyers of Kenyan tea, has once again granted Kenya a one year extension to for Kenyan tea access to the Sudanese market without restrictions as the two country’s continue to address issues of quality.

According to a report by Business Daily, the extension follows the lapse of the previous one-year window granted by Sudan to allow Kenya proceed with its research of the keeping life of the commodity amid raising concerns over the shelf-life.

The two countries have had conflicting reports over the last years on the shelf-life of the Kenyan tea, a move that prompted a joint scientific research to determine the actual sell-by date of the beverage.

Whereas Kenya maintains that the commodity takes three years on the shelf before it expires, Sudan has argued that the duration of the sell-by date is one- and-a-half years.

The joint research is being conducted by Sudan Standards and Metrology Organisation (SSMO) and the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS).

Officials from Kenya had visited Sudan to discuss the matter where the country requested for an extension of more time for the Kenyan tea to continue accessing Khartoum market as the five-year research is being conducted.

According to a recent letter addressed to Kenya’s ambassador to Sudan, the director general of SSMO, Awad Sokrab, said his Sudan has approved tea export to Khartoum this year.

“Reference to the above subject matter and your letter requesting a reprieve on the requirements for tea exports from Kenya to Sudan, we are pleased to inform you of the approval to renew for third year during 2019,” said Dr Sokrab in the letter.

In the past, the Sudanese government made various changes to the rules governing trade in of the commodity including traceability where it required exporters to first seek certificates of origin to determine the tea had actually come from Kenya.

In 2017, Sudan suspended the decision to cut the shelf life of Kenyan tea to allow the research the outcome of the ongoing research following diplomatic interventions.

Sudan is a major Kenyan tea market with data showing that in January this year, Kenyan tea exports to Sudan stood at 1.14 million kilos, representing a double digit growth from 631,859 kilos that it bought in corresponding period last year.