Traders say quality of Tanzanian tea improves

MOMBASA, KENYA: Tea varieties from Tanzania fetched better prices following improved quality of her produce, according to traders at the Mombasa tea auction.

According to figures seen by the Standard, Pekoe Dust (PD) tea from Tanzania’s Itona and Kibena fetched good prices compared to several Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) factories.

According to auction report the prices of PD from Itona has been on an upward spiral and on Tuesday last week it hit Sh213.48 ($2.14) a kilo up from Sh209.49 ($2.10) it traded previously.

This is higher compared to several KTDA factories like Tegat whose PD tea prices drop by Sh.10.97 ($0.11) to Sh210.49 ($2.11) from Sh221.46 ($2.22) it had sold in the previous sale.

 This is the first time the Tanzanian PD teas have sold at a superior price compared to Kenyan factories which have rekindled the debate of dropping qualities of Kenyan leaf.

“For the first time PD from Itona and Kibena in Tanzania fetched better prices than several KTDA factories,” said the Managing Director of Atlas Tea Brokers, Ms. Hilda Mugure.

The two factories are part of Mufindi Tea and Coffee Limited, Rift Valley Tea Solutions Limited and Kibena Tea Limited acquired by Kenya business mogul Mr. David Langat.

Langat has in the past interview revealed his plan to better the quality of Tanzanian tea a move that would improve the prices and better yields for farmers in the neighboring nation.

Last week, tea prices at the Mombasa based tea auction dropped marginally due to escalated tension between one of the produce’s biggest buyer, Pakistan, and India.

However, traders at the auction also attributed the drop to an unusual increase in the volumes of tea offered and drop in the quality of leaf from parts of the Rift Valley.

Traders say the quality of tea from Tanzania has improved.

Statistics from the tea auction indicate that Pakistan buys about 40 percent of the tea sold in Mombasa.

"Other than the unusual increase in volumes, the effects of the India-Pakistan standoff is being felt at the auction. It has led to the devaluation of Pakistan currency forcing buyers to adopt a wait and see," said Ms. Mugure.

She added, “Usually in February we expect the volumes to start dropping but they have remained high. Prices have dropped like this week some Uganda tea traded below a dollar,” said Ms. Mugure.