Tea export volumes from East Africa to the rest of the world have increased, a latest auction report has shown.
Records from the auction held on November 5th and 6th at the Mombasa auction, shows that the regional export volume registered a 13 per cent increase.
A total of 10.4 million kilogrammes of tea were exported compared to 9 million that were exported last year, around the same time.
Six East African member states actively participated in the auction out of the 10 countries on the auction list. These included Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and Ethiopia. The other countries on the list but did not trade include DR Congo, Malawi, Madagascar, and Mozambique.
The managing director of Uganda Tea Development Agency- a conglomeration of three-factories (Igara, Kayonza and Buhweju), in an interview with Prosper magazine, said: “The prices at the auction are low and this could be one of the reasons why producers are now reluctant to sell through Mombasa but rather resort to direct markets.”
Mr Byarugaba said UTDA is increasingly moving into direct exports to markets such as Pakistan, United Kingdom and recently showcased in the United Arab Emirates (Dubai).
The producers also have direct export prospects in Russia, Iran and Egypt - some of the biggest buyers of tea.
In an earlier interview with this newspaper, Mr Elly Twineyo, the executive director of Uganda Export Promotion Board, said much as Uganda still exports a bigger percentage of her tea through Mombasa auction, strides have been made in the direct markets.
Uganda’s direct tea exports last year earned the country $20.2m (Shs75b) and this goes mostly to Sudan, Egypt and DR Congo among others.
According to Bank of Uganda’s records, the value of Uganda’s tea exports have been increasing for the last three years.
Last year, the country exported tea worth $79.8m (Shs299b), up from $71.5m (Shs268b) realised in 2016.
On average, Uganda exports about 60,000 tonnes indirectly through Mombasa auction as Kenyan tea through 27 exporting companies.
The auction report by the East African Tea Export Auction showed that Kenya exported over 7.6 million kilogrammes bags more than the 6.7 million it exported the same time last year. This indicated an 11.4 per cent increase in exports.
Uganda, the region’s second largest exporter, sold 1.1 million kilogramme bags down from 1.3 million kilogrammes bags exported around the same time last year. This indicated an 18 per cent drop.
Rwanda during this auction exported 388,332 kilogrammes bags, up from 313,486 kilogramme bags exported the same time last year. This indicated a 19 per cent growth.
In the region, Burundi exported 153,603 kilogramme bags of tea which were 29 per cent more than the 107,782 kilogramme bags exported last year.
Tanzania during this auction sold a total of 189,441 kilogramme bags, up from 165,560 kilogramme bags it exported the previous year, indicating a 12.6 per cent increase.