Prosper

Dry weather conditions take toll on region’s tea volumes

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Farmers harvest tea. Uganda has 18 tea-processing and exporting

Farmers harvest tea. Uganda has 18 tea-processing and exporting companies. Photo by OTUSHABIRE TIBYANGYE 

By Dorothy Nakaweesi

Posted  Tuesday, January 28   2014 at  02:00

In Summary

Tea price drop. A kilogramme at the auction market goes for Shs4,706 down from the previous Shs5,944.

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Tough times lie ahead for tea exporters in East Africa as dry weather conditions slash production.

A new report from Mombasa Tea Brokers East Africa Limited predicts a gradual drop in tea production as Kenya approaches its dry season. The same trend is being experienced by Uganda where tea production has fallen due to the dry weather since the year’s start.

The report says: “Since the year begun, 21.4 million kilogrammes were sold, down from 22.7 million kilogrammes sold around the same period last year.”
Out of the cumulative tea auctioned, Kenya sold a total of 15.1 million kilogrammes which was down from 16.9 million kilogrammes traded last year.

Uganda’s tea sales increase
In this period- Uganda, which is the second contributor to the Mombasa auction, surprisingly realised an increase in its sales. The country sold 4.1 million kilogrammes of tea, up from last year’s 3.4 million kilogrammes it sold previously.

Sharing his experience with Prosper magazine, Mpanga Tea Estate’s chairman of the board of directors, Mr Jessey Bwango, attested to the low production.

“We have seen our production at Mpanga go down by almost half. In the wet seasons, we harvest over and above 80,000 kilogrammes but this has dropped to 30,000 kilogrammes,” Mr Bwango said.

Earnings hurt
This situation has not spared the farmers’ earnings according to Mr Bwango. Currently, a kilogramme at the auction market goes for about Shs4,706 ($1.9) down from the previous Shs5,944 ($2.4).

He added that this situation is likely to affect even the farmers’ bonuses and the cost of inputs has also gone up because of the depreciating dollar against the Shilling.

The other EAC member countries’ performances were Rwanda and Tanzania who sold 531,114 and 979,349 kilogrammes respectively. In Tanzania and Malawi, tea production is expected to remain heavy given the current wet weather.

dnakaweesi@ug.nationmedia.com