Tea production in Kenya is expected to drop by 12 percent in the first quarter of 2017 due to escalating drought that has negatively impacted on the entire agriculture sector, officials said on Monday.
Minister for Agriculture Willy Bett told a a press briefing in Nairobi that Kenya expects to produce 416 million kilograms of tea in 2017 down from 473 million kilograms in 2016 due to harsh weather conditions.
“We expect tea production volumes to decrease by 12 percent in the first quarter of this year while export volumes of the commodity will decrease by similar margin,” Bett said.
He clarified that auction prices of tea in the international market will be slightly higher compared to last year due to higher demand for the commodity.
Kenya’s tea production in 2016 broke record due to favorable weather condition, restructured value chains and improved agronomic practices by smallholder farmers.
According to statistics from the ministry of agriculture, tea production in 2016 hit 473 million kilograms compared to 399 million kilograms recorded in 2015.
Bett noted that higher supply led to a drop in tea auction prices from 2.98 dollars per kilogram in 2015 to 2.36 dollars per kilogram in 2016.
The ministry of agriculture and key partners has rolled out a range of interventions to cushion the tea sector from negative impacts of climate change that include droughts.
Bett revealed the government is implementing comprehensive mitigation strategies in conjunction with UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to enhance climate resilience in the tea sub-sector.
“Future interventions to shield the tea sector from adverse impacts of extreme weather events include water harvesting, storage and energy efficiency in tea factories,” Bett told reporters.
The tea sub-sector contributes 7 percent to Kenya’s GDP alongside 45 percent of export earnings in the east African nation. Enditem