Wednesday December 6 2017

EAC records surge in tea exports

EAC records surge tea exports

A woman harvests tea from a farm. EAC tea exports increased by 23 per cent up from what was exported the same time last year. FILE PHOTO  

By Dorothy Nakaweesi

East African tea producing countries have recorded an increase in exports with Uganda grouped among the best three in terms of percentage sales performance, a latest auction report has shown.
The auction which was carried out on 20 and 21 last month saw a total of six countries offer tea from the usual nine members.
Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and Ethiopia participated in the auction while Malawi, Madagascar, Mozambique and DR Congo did not.
According to the African Tea Brokers report a total of 9.2 million kilogrammes were exported out of the region up from the 7.2 million kilogrammes exported around the same time last year.
“The regional countries’ realised a 23 per cent increase in exports up from what was exported the same time last year,” the report stated, in part.
In an interview with Prosper Magazine about this performance, the executive secretary Uganda Tea Association (UTA), Mr George William Ssekitooleko, said the weather has contributed to Uganda’s good sales.
“The last few months we have received good rains and this facilitates tea production which has been reflected in our sales at the auction,” he shared.
He also said that the price this year has also been very good which also facilitated the increase in sales. This year a kilogramme of tea from Uganda was priced at $2 (Shs7,260) up from $1.5 (Shs5,445) quoted last year. Annually, Uganda exports more than 60,000 tonnes of tea indirectly through Mombasa Auction as Kenyan tea. However this arrangement has denied the country a tea brand image at the international market.
Country performance
The report shows that Burundi exported a total of 126,000 kilogramme bags up from 62,000 kilogramme bags, Tanzania 257,000 more than 30,000 kilogrammes it exported the previous year indicating an 88 per cent increase, while Burundi realised a 57 per cent increase.
Uganda was ranked third biggest in the region with 32 percent per cent from its 1.2 million kilogrammes sold up from 859,000 bags sold last year.
Rwanda followed Uganda in this period exported a total of 310,000 kilogrammes up from 223,000 kilogrammes sold the same period last year, indicating a 27 per cent increase.
Kenya the region’s leading producer exported a total of 7.2 million kilogrammes up from 5.9 million kilogrammes indicating a 23 per cent increase sold the previous year.
Direct exports
Most of Uganda’s tea is indirectly exported as Kenyan. But if plans to change this course are successful the country will export her tea directly to the market.
Uganda Export Promotion Board’ (UEPB) executive director, Mr Elly Twineyo in an earlier interaction with Prosper Magazine said direct buyers of Ugandan tea have been identified from Iran.
“We have identified direct buyers for Ugandan tea in Iran. Iran used to consume coffee but now they consume tea,” Mr Twineyo shared.
A delegation of Iranian buyers was in the country early this year on a fact finding mission and discussion on how to make this happen.
Mr Twineyo said that during their discussion with Iranian buyers, they have a capacity to annually import over 10,000 metric tonnes of Tea from Uganda.
Annually Uganda exports about 60,000 tons indirectly through Mombasa auction as Kenyan tea. This arrangement has denied the country’s a tea brand image at the international market.
“As UEPB we are looking for direct exports of Uganda’s tea besides the Mombasa auction,” Mr Twineyo said.
Mr Twineyo shared that the other alternative they are looking out to explore is establish a Kampala Auction.
“This will not stop us from sending tea to Mombasa. Can we get the direct markets because almost 85 per cent of our tea is sold at the Mombasa auction,” he shared. He said besides Iran other tea markets for Uganda is in Sudan, South Sudan, DR Congo and Turkey.