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Frost, bad weather reduce Kenyan tea production

Kenya’s annual tea production is expected to fall by abo ut 9 per cent as a result of frost and dry weather conditions registered in the f irst three months of the year, sparking a price rally in the third quarter of th i s year, Kenya’s tea marketing agency, the Tea Board of Kenya, said Wednesday.

Sicily Kariuki, the Tea Board of Kenya Managing Director, said tea production fo r the first half of the year registered a drop of 21 per cent, from 198 million k ilogrammes registered in the same period last year, to 157 million kgs.

The highest drop in production was experienced in the first three months of the year.

The first three months saw tea production decline by 34 per cent as a result of the effects of dry weather conditions experienced in most tea growing areas and f rost that hit parts of the west Rift Valley.

Kenyans consumed more tea during the first half of the year, leading to a minima l two per cent increase in the volumes consumed locally.

From January to June, Kenyans consumed 8.6 million kgs of tea, compared to 8.4 m illion kgs consumed during the same period in 2007.

Kariuki attributed the increased domestic consumption to a local campaign to pus h up consumption, launched towards the end of the second quarter of 2008.
“The objective of the campaign is to enhance usage of tea in the domestic market through promoting the culture of tea consumption at all times as well as positi o ning tea as a contemporary and healthy drink,” Kariuki told journalists at a bri e fing Wednesday.

The lower production is expected to persist in July and August as a result of th e less impressive weather conditions prevailing in the tea-growing regions of the Rift Valley.

Kariuki said the cold season which followed the end of the March-May rains hit p roduction and the last four months of the year is expected to remain unchanged, m eaning production will remain subdued.

She said the production shortfalls were unlikely to be overcome, which would eve ntually lead to a lowering of the annual production to 336 million kgs from the 3 69 million kgs recorded in 2007.

“The tea auction and export volumes for the year will be less than last year, while the prices are expected to be higher,” she said.

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