Tea output drops 12pc in Q3 on bad weather

Tuesday November 14 2017

A tea picker at Kangaita in Gichugu, Kirinyaga County. File PHOTO | NMG

A tea picker at Kangaita in Gichugu, Kirinyaga County. File PHOTO | NMG 

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Tea production in the nine months to September dropped 12 per cent on account of severe drought witnessed particularly in the first quarter of the year.

Monthly data from Tea Directorate indicate the volumes dropped to 303 million kilogrammes (kg) between January and September from 346 million in the corresponding period last year.

“The decline is attributed to unfavorable weather conditions that was experienced during the first quarter of the year,” says the report.

The production decline affected export volumes with quantities sold through the Mombasa auction shrinking by 17 per cent, to 320 million kgs in the period under review, from 387 million kgs between January and September 2016.

Reduced supplies at the auction helped to boost price of tea in the international markets, where Kenya sells over 90 per cent of its beverage, making it the leading exporter of the commodity.

Cumulative average price for the nine months of 2017 was on average higher at Sh306 per Kg compared with Sh236 for the corresponding period of 2016.

“Improved prices were attributable to good demand against lower supply of tea in the first quarter of the year when the country witnessed a decline in production,” says the report.

The yields for 2017 are expected to drop by double digits, according to Agriculture Food Authority (AFA) due to the effects of drought in what is likely to affect farmers’ earnings in the 2017/2018 financial year.

The AFA says production of green leaf will drop from 473 million kgs in 2016 to about 420 million kgs.

Nyeri and Kirinyaga counties were the worst hit this year, with production falling by 30.6 per cent and 32.6 per cent respectively.

The drought, according to Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA), which manages small scale farmers, cut grower’s second earnings from Sh44 billion paid last year to Sh42 billion this year.

Kenya is a leading exporter of black CTC tea and the beverage earned country $1.226 billion (Sh127.3 billion) last year, which was a drop of 1.7 per cent from the $1.247 billion (Sh129.4 billion) the commodity recorded in 2015.