EAC tea exports rise

Monday August 29 2016
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Workers pick tea leaves at Mpanga Growers tea plantation. Tea is the main source of income to hundreds of families in Kabarole and Kyenjojo districts and many other East African Community member states. FILE PHOTO

All East African Community member states have had a good tea harvest that has resulted into high trade volumes.
This is contained in the latest report from Tea Brokers East Africa Limited which shows that at the June Mombasa auction, nine million kilogramme bags were offered, up from the 7.4 million bags recorded in the same period last year.
“Out of this production, the region exported a total of 8.3 million kilogrammes up from 6.2 million kilogrammes exported the same time last year thus indicating a 24.8 per cent,” the report said.
Out of the cumulative tea auctioned, Kenya the market leader, sold 6.5 million bags up from 4.8 million bags traded last year.
In this period, Uganda which is the second contributor to the Mombasa auction, also recorded an increase when it sold a total of 1 million bags, up from 743,000 bags sold the same period last year.
Tea is one of Uganda’s traditional export commodities, supporting more than 62,000 people and supporting more than 500,000 dependents.
Annually, Uganda earns about $100 million (Shs340 billion) in the export of tea. Europe, Kenya, the Middle East, Russia, and America are the major export destinations for Uganda’s tea.
However, experts say that the low quality of Ugandan tea has hindered its competition in both regional and international markets worldwide.
“When Uganda tea is exported to Kenya, it is mixed with other varieties and hence ceases to be Ugandan tea. It passes through the Kenyan auction market,” a report from Uganda Tea.

Uganda situation
Producers. The country boasts of 16 tea processing and exporting companies operating 21 processing factories. Four of these are owned by smallholders including Igara, Kayonza, Mabale and Mpanga Growers Tea factories.