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August 23, 2011

Kenyan tea production up in July; exports down

by Sarah McGregor and Paul Richardson

Tea production in Kenya, the world’s biggest exporter of the black variety of the leaves, rose 8 percent in July to 26.3 million kilograms (58 million pounds) on improved weather conditions, the industry regulator said.

Shipments last month fell 2 percent to 37.4 million kilograms, with Egypt accounting for 19 percent of exports, followed by Pakistan and the U.K., the Nairobi-based Tea Board of Kenya said. The volume of tea sold through the world’s biggest auction in Mombasa in July declined 8 percent to 20.7 million kilograms, the board said.

Production of the leaves in the seven months through July dropped 14 percent to 204.8 million kilograms compared with a year earlier, largely due to lower rainfall, it said.

Unseasonably dry weather in East Africa has caused one of the worst droughts in the region in six decades..

Tea was Kenya’s biggest foreign-currency earner last year. Production may fall 30 percent this year, from a record 399 million kilograms in 2010, because of drier weather, Peter Kimanga, chairman of the East African Tea Trade Association, an industry group, said on Aug. 19.

Kenya’s is the world’s third-largest producer of tea, after China and India, according to the Rome-based FAO.


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