Kenya’s tea production in the first half of this year declined by 12% to 158 million tonnes from 178 million tonnes recorded during the same period in 2011, the Tea Board of Kenya announced Wednesday, citing poor weather conditions.
Tea Board Managing Director Sicily Kariuki, said the poor weather conditions affected mostly the small-scale tea growers, who returned a decline in production following the poor performance of the long rains and the onset of a severely cold season, which usually leads to loss of the crop.
There was a boost in production in June -- attributed to light rainfall in Kericho, the West of Rift Valley -- where output increased from 19.1 million kilogrammes (kgs) in June 2011 to 20.6 million kgs.
Production in the East Rift dropped marginally from 9.8 million kgs to 9.5 million kgs due to the premature “long rainfall” season and the ensuing cold season.
“Compared to the month of June 2011, there was enhanced production within the Plantation sub-sector from 12.6 Million kgs to 14.1 Million kgs,” Kariuki said.
Smallholder tea farmers recorded a marginal output drop from 16.2 million kgs to 16.0 Million kgs due to the adverse weather conditions experienced during the first four months of the year.
Owing to lower production to-date, tea production for the year 2012 is expected to reach 360 million kgs compared to 377 million kgs recorded in 2011.
The average tea auction prices for June stood at an average of US$ 3 per kg compared to US$ 2.97 for the same period of last month.
Cumulative average auction price for the half-year period of 2012 was slightly above US$ 3 while for the corresponding period of 2011 was slightly below US$ 3.
Better prices for the month of June and the half-year period were due to lower supply that has been recorded in Key tea producing countries across the world with the exception of China, Bangladesh and Indonesia.