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Good prices boost tea earnings to Sh62b

CARTOON
By | March 24th 2009

By Benson Kathuri

The country earned Sh62.1 billion from tea exports last year, up from Sh43.1 billion recorded the previous year.

Agriculture PS Romano Kiome said tea export volume rose from 345.8 million kg in 2007 to 383.4 million kg, while earnings rose by Sh19 billion due to improved prices.

"Despite the challenges we went through last year, tea still remained a leading foreign exchange earner after horticulture," he said during a luncheon hosted by Hong Kong Development Council on Monday.

Kiome also urged exporters in the agricultural sector to diversify their markets, away from the traditional European Union to the Far East and Eastern Europe, to minimise the impact of the on-going financial crisis.

The PS also said the Government had identified three industrial crops; tea, coffee and horticulture that would be developed further through value addition.

He said that although the global recession has spread to most parts of the world, Asian economies that include China would still record modest growth that would keep demand for exports high.

Besides the post-election violence early last year, the sector also suffered a set back after fertiliser prices rose by more than 300 per cent due to high oil prices witnessed in the middle of the year.

The PS said new regulations to govern tea marketing would become effective on Tuesday next week with more players expected to join the Mombasa-based tea auction.

Kiome said additional players would introduce competition to the existing agents who have engaged in cartel-like activities that ensure prices remain low and hence deny farmers better earnings.

He, however, expressed concern over poor performance by the coffee sub-sector.

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