Production of tea in the country recorded a slight declined in the year 2017 due to poor rainfall pattern during the period.
The country only produced 439 million kilos in 2017 compared to 473 million kilos the previous year when the environment was more conducive.
This was attributed to depressed rainfall conditions that were characterized by severe drought prevalent in parts of Muranga and Kiambu leading to a decline of 168 million kilos compared to 152 million kilos in 2016.
Kericho, Bomet, Nandi and Kisii Counties recorded also a five percent decline in production to 287 million kilos from 304 million kilos in 2016.
Speaking after giving the tea performance report, Interim Head of the Tea directors Samuel Ogolla however said that tea export earnings increased to a high of S29 billion in 2017 up from S20 billion in 2016.
In terms of prices, Kenya is thus among the top countries that enjoyed high tea earnings in the world after Sri Lanka and Rwanda last year, Ogolla said.
The eight percent increase is because of stable exchange rates, sustained demand in key and emerging markets and higher unit prices.
2017 recorded the highest export earnings over a period of five years, said Ogola.
A kilo of tea, the Interim head said was last year selling at Sh298 per kg at the tea auction market in Mombasa up from Sh236 in 2016.
The prices in 2017 are amongst the highest and at similar level to 2015.
Good prices he added attributed to lower supply and consistency in quality and were amongst the highest globally after Sri Lanka Sh402 and Rwanda at Sh320, he said.
Kericho was the top county in tea production at 84 million kilos which is 19 percent total national production. Nandi was at 67 million kilos, which is 15 percent of the national production, Bomet, 66 million kilos which is 15 percent national production, Murang’a, 41 million kgs of nine percent national production and Kiambu, 35 million kilos of eight percent national production.
The 2017 election anxiety, Ogolla explained had no impact on production but globally, production was lower across most tea producers
According to the tea industry performance report 2017, local consumption increased in volume at 37 million kgs, 27 percent higher compared to 29 million kgs in 2016.
The local consumption was attributed to more sales by packers and factories attributed to stable macroeconomic stability and sustained purchasing power amongst the consumers, he said.
Affiliated farmers to the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) earned a total of Sh78 billion in the last financial year, compared to the Sh84 billion they earned in the previous year.
Ogolla said that as part of maintaining her position globally in terms of black tea Kenya plans are underway to diversify markets to China, Russia, Iran, USA and UAE
East Africa Tea Trade Association (EATTA) CEO Edward Mudibo said Kenya tea will continue to attract high prices due to its superior quality.
More markets he added will continue to be sought to ensure new exports are sucked up.
More than 70 percent of locally produced tea is sold through the Mombasa tea auction while the rest if sold through direct sales, said Mudibo.
To enhance sales at the auction, Mudibo stated value chain players are supporting an initiative to automate the auction and the tender for the automation of the facility will be awarded by the end of week will be completed by December 2018
Kenya is the leading exporter of black crush, tear, curl (CTC) teas in the world, accounting for about 24 per cent of the global exports. Pakistan, Egypt, United Kingdom, UAE, Sudan and Russia top the list of export destinations of Kenya tea.
Tea subsector earnings are currently second in terms of foreign exchange earnings after diaspora remittances, which stood at S78 billion in 11 months to November 2017. Horticulture came in third at Sh85 billion.
Source: Kenya News Agency