Kenya's tea export earnings surging to record high in 2023-Xinhua

Kenya's tea export earnings surging to record high in 2023

Source: Xinhua| 2024-03-01 01:12:45|Editor: huaxia

NAIROBI, Feb. 29 (Xinhua) -- The value of Kenya's tea exports increased 31 percent in 2023, a record high, boosted by a rise in volumes exported and a decline in the value of the local currency, officials said Thursday.

Willy Mutai, the chief executive officer of the Tea Board of Kenya, said that tea export earnings stood at a record 180.57 billion shillings (about 1.22 billion U.S. dollars) in 2023, compared to 940 million dollars the previous year.

"This represented a 31 percent increase in value of exports and is the best earnings ever recorded by the tea industry over the years," Mutai said during the launch of the tea industry performance results for the year 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya's capital.

The Kenya shilling during the period traded against the dollar for as low as 150, according to the Central Bank of Kenya, enabling exporters to earn more.

The total export volume rose 72.58 million kg from 450.33 million kg recorded in 2022 to 522.92 million kg.

Pakistan maintained its position as the leading export destination for Kenyan tea, having imported 209.59 million kg, an increase of 15 percent from 181.98 million kg imported in 2022.

Rigathi Gachagua, Kenya's deputy president, said the government will continue to implement the necessary reforms to increase returns for tea growers. Gachagua said that Kenya is in the process of completing the implementation of various reforms to address the increasing cost of production, declining quality of tea, low levels of value addition and product diversification, and depressed prices.

He noted Kenya has prioritized increasing the level of value-added tea exports from 5 percent in 2023 to 50 percent by 2027. This, he added, is expected to increase the value of tea exports from 1.22 billion dollars in 2023 to over 1.85 billion dollars by 2027 and the earnings of smallholder tea farmers as well.

Gachagua revealed that the government will lead bilateral engagements in restoring key markets such as Russia, as well as expanding markets with China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, where the balance of trade is skewed against Kenya.

Mithika Linturi, cabinet secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, said the institution is working towards establishing an incubation center on product diversification into high-value specialty teas and value addition.

Linturi noted that the center will incubate the youth in special tea manufacturing and specialty tea products to enable them to effectively participate in the highly lucrative niche market of specialty teas. He urged tea traders to continue harnessing the opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) framework and the Economic Commission for West African States (ECOWAS), where there are 15 member countries with whom they can enjoy preferential negotiated tariffs.

According to the Tea Board of Kenya, compared to 2022, more exports were recorded in traditional markets except for the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Sudan.