Tea farmers earnings rise to Sh84bn

Small-scale Kenyan tea farmers saw their revenue surge 32 percent to a record Sh84 billion in the year to June as strong demand pushed up prices and a weaker currency helped, their national co-operative said on Tuesday.

The East African nation is the world’s No. 1 exporter of black tea and the crop is its top foreign exchange earner.

Robust demand in the first half of the year drove up the average price per kg to $3.01, from an average of $2.63 in the previous financial year, Lerionka Tiampati, managing director of the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA), said.

“The improved earnings was a result of improved tea prices, increased tea volumes associated with good weather, and favourable exchange rates,” Tiampati said in a statement.

KTDA accounts for about 60 percent of tea production in Kenya. The rest is grown by large-scale farmers and corporations.

The volume of green leaf produced by small-scale farmers climbed marginally to 1.23 billion kg over the period from 1.04 billion kg the previous year, KTDA said.

Kenya expects production of tea to jump 10 to 15 percent this year to Sh430 million to Sh 450 million kg on the back of heavy rains associated with the el Nino weather phenomenon, the agriculture industry regulator said in May.

It earned Sh125 billion from tea exports in the calendar year 2015.

Tiampati said despite the good performance, the producers still face challenges including high energy, labour, financing and transport costs.