Kenya Tea Export Prices Hit Eight-Year High.

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The average price of Kenyan tea exports grew for the third consecutive month in May, reaching Ksh335,407 ($2,351) per tonne, the highest level in over eight years due to a weak shilling and higher tea demand.

Tea export revenues increased by 33% to Ksh16.17 billion ($113.34 million) in May, the highest level since March, according to data from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), up from Ksh12.17 billion ($85.31 million) in April.

Improved earnings were supported by an increase in prices of the beverage, which was the highest since August 2015 when they were Ksh342,428 ($2,400) per tonne as well as a jump in volumes, which rose to 48,229 tonnes up from 37,025 tonnes.

The Kenyan shilling has been on a downward spiral against the greenback with the local currency trading at a record low of Ksh142.52 against US currency yesterday. The slump has been a boon for exporters who are now earning more in the local unit for their produce.

Tea growers produced 57.88 million kilograms of the beverage in May, an increase of 7.63 million kilograms from 50.25 million kilograms in the same period last year, according to the Kenya Tea Board (KTB).

Output was also higher compared to 49.49 million kilograms recorded in April with the agency attributing the rise to better weather conditions.

“Though the month of May marks the cessation of the long rains over most parts of the country, rainfall recorded across the country was moderate and well distributed,” said KTB.

Tea production in the west of Rift Valley was higher by 5.22 million kilograms from 32.81 million kilograms recorded in May 2022 to 38.03 million kilograms this year.

“In tea-growing areas in the west of Rift, Kericho received near-normal rainfall of about 82% of its long-term mean precipitation for the month while the rest of the region (Bomet, Kisii/Nyamira, and Nandi) recorded moderate rainfall,” said KTB.

Similarly, production within tea-growing areas east of the Rift Valley was enhanced by 2.42 million kilograms from 17.43 million kilograms to 19.85 million kilograms.

“In the east of Rift, high rainfall ranging an average of 98-178mm daily was recorded in the first week of May and moderate rainfall during the rest of the month,” said the agency.

Kenya’s tea export volumes, however, continue to be hampered by a shortage of foreign exchange reserves and conflicts that have affected exports to key export markets such as Pakistan, Egypt, Yemen, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates.

In April, Kenya shipped tea to some 43 countries, compared to 45 nations in a similar month last year.

“Despite foreign reserves challenges, Pakistan maintained its position as the leading export destination for Kenya tea having imported 8.03 million kilograms, which accounted for 33% of the total export volume,” said KTB.

The Kenya Kwanza administration has promised reforms in the tea sector to boost earnings for farmers which led to the ouster of David Muni Ichoho as the chairman of the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) last month.

He was replaced by Enos Njiru Njeru who promised to explore new markets for Kenya’s tea.

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