Kenya’s tea production decreased sharply to 34.49 million kilograms in March compared to 45.32 million kilograms recorded in the same period in 2016, tea marketers said.

The Tea Directorate attributed lower production largely to dry and hot weather conditions experienced in all the tea growing areas across the country.

“The most affected region was the East of Rift where production declined significantly from 20.38 million kilograms to 9.85 million kilograms owing to delayed onset of the ‘Long-rains’ season,” the directorate said in a statement released on Tuesday.

The statistics show that tea production for 2016 rose 18.4 percent above the previous year’s harvest, recording an all time high of 399 million kilos.

The smallholder sub-sector recorded a significant decrease of 9.61 million kilograms from 28.66 million kilograms to 19.05 million kilograms while the plantation sub-sector registered a marginal drop of 1.22 million kilograms from 16.66 million kilograms recorded in March 2016 to 15.44 million kilograms.

The directorate said cumulative output for the first three months of the year was significantly lower at 90.09 million kilograms against 139.60 million kilograms recorded during the corresponding period of 2016 owing to dry and hot weather conditions and delayed onset of the ‘Long-rains’ season.

It said lower production is expected to be recorded throughout the year going by the current production trend and the fact that most parts of the country are expected to receive depressed “long rainfall,” according to the weather forecast by the Kenya Meteorological Services.

The total export volume for the period was 35.04 million kilograms compared to 42.31 million kilograms recorded same period of last year, representing a 17 percent decrease. Kenya tea was shipped to 41 export destinations compared to 42 destinations for the same period of last year.

Amongst these markets, Pakistan was the leading export destination for Kenyan tea having imported 11.25 million kilograms, accounting for 32 percent of the total export volume.

Other key export destinations for Kenyan tea were Egypt (5.87 million kilos), the UK (3.17 million kilograms), Sudan (2.47 million kilograms), UAE (2.31 million kilograms), Yemen (1.65 million kilos), Russia (1.52 million kilograms), Kazakhstan (0.92 million kilograms), the US (0.65 million kilograms) and Saudi Arabia (0.63 million kilograms).

“The ten export destinations, most of which are traditional markets for Kenyan tea accounted for 87 percent of Kenya tea export volume,” the Tea Directorate said.

Amongst the markets that recorded higher tea imports from Kenya included Pakistan, Yemen, Kazakhastan, U.S., and Saudi Arabia, it said.

Amongst the emerging markets that recorded significantly higher tea imports from Kenya included Poland, China, Chile, South Africa, Malaysia and Singapore.

According to the statistics, the total export volume for the period January-March was 119.72 million kilograms compared to 128.32 million kilograms recorded same period of last year. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh