Tea export earnings dip 16pc soured by lower auction prices

Robert Kibet, a tea picker in Kericho uses a manual scissor and holder improvised to pick leaves in a picture taken on December 8, 2019. The technology of picking is in handy to help pickers' work easier. [Denish Ochieng/Standard]

Kenya’s earnings from tea exports last year fell by 16.4 per cent attributed to low auction prices amid low production of the leaf.

Figures from the Tea Directorate show that tea export earnings stood at Sh117 billion in 2019, down from Sh140 billion in 2018.

Production, on the other hand, fell by 6.95 per cent last year, with the country producing 458.85 million kilogrammes of the crop.

“Lower earnings were attributed to low auction prices,” said the industry regulator.

Kenya is the world’s largest exporter of black tea, and the crop is one of the top foreign exchange earners besides tourism and diaspora remittances.

During the year under review, the average price of Kenyan tea fell by over Sh40 per kilo to Sh222, down from Sh260 in 2018.

The Tea Directorate attributed the fall to an oversupply. In the first nine months of last year, the Tea Directorate had attributed the 8.5 per cent fall in production to dry weather and poor rainfall at the start of the year.

For More of This and Other Stories, Grab Your Copy of the Standard Newspaper.  

Tea output had declined to 316.8 million kilos from 346.23 million kilos the same period last year.

“Cumulative production for the period January-September 2019 was 8.50 per cent lower owing to severe hot and dry weather conditions and the late onset of the long rains experienced during the first quarter of the year as well as depressed rainfall conditions during the month of April and September,” said the regulator.

During this period, production in the west rift region was the most affected, falling by 9.08 per cent, while production in the east rift dropped by 7.48 per cent compared to 2018.

However, the regulator said this year production along with export earnings are likely to increase marginally. Last year, Pakistan was the largest buyer of Kenyan tea, purchasing Sh35 billion worth of the crop as of October.

Do not miss out on the latest news. Join the Standard Digital Telegram channel HERE.

Get the latest summary of news in your email every morning. Subscribe below

* indicates required
The Tea DirectorateKericho