Tea production in Kenya, the world’s biggest exporter of the black
variety of the leaves, fell 16 percent in the first half because of
drought, the Tea Board of Kenya said.
Output dropped to 178.4 million kilograms (393.3 million pounds) in the
six months through June, from 213 million kilograms a year earlier, the
Nairobi-based board said in an e- mailed statement. Exports declined 2.4
percent to 211.7 million kilograms, it said.
“Lower production was largely attributed to hot and dry weather
conditions experienced during the first quarter of the year as well as
depressed and poorly distributed rainfall pattern experienced in most
tea growing areas during the second quarter,” it said. East Africa has
suffered from two poor rainy seasons that caused one of the worst
droughts since 1950-51, according to the United Nations’Food and
Agriculture Organization. Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki in May declared
the drought a national disaster.
In neighboring Uganda, Africa’s second-biggest coffee producer, exports
of the beans were 3.7 percent below target in the 2010-11 fiscal year
because of poor rainfall, while Tanzania said its coffee output may drop
20 percent in the year through 2012 because of drought.
Tea production was worst affected east of the Rift Valley, with output
falling 18 percent to 70.7 million kilograms, the Tea Board said. West
of the Rift, output declined 15 percent to 126.1 million kilograms, it
said. Pakistan was the biggest export destination for Kenyan tea,
accounting for 19 percent of the total, followed by Egypt, Afghanistan
and Sudan, the board said. The four markets took 71 percent of Kenya’s
shipments, it said.
“The unprecedented increase in tea exports to Pakistan and subsequent
drop of tea exports to Afghanistan was attributed to continued reduction
of smuggling of commodities into the country through Afghanistan,” the
board said. “The reduced volume to Egypt was largely attributed to
political unrest within the country at the beginning of the year.”
Tea is the biggest foreign-exchange earner in Kenya, East Africa’s
largest economy, which relies on agriculture to generate a quarter of
its economic output.