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Kenya: Tea promotion strategy needed as prices languish

By David Whitehouse
Posted on Friday, 16 July 2021 11:09

Workers pick tea leaves at a plantation in Kiambu County, near Nairobi, Kenya, April 26, 2018. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Rock-bottom prices for Kenyan tea amid a global supply glut mean it’s time for the creation of an agency mandated to promote Kenyan produce on the global market, Shadrack Manyinsa, an analyst at Kingdom Securities in Nairobi, tells The Africa Report.

Prices at the Mombasa tea auction have averaged around $1.80 this year, consistently below the critical $2 mark, and in early July touched a five-year low of  $1.65. Current prices will “further impoverish” many farmers, with small-scale farmers the most affected, Manyinsa, says.

A dedicated agency is needed to give priority to lifting exports to the main buyers of Kenyan tea,  namely Pakistan, Egypt, Sudan and the United Kingdom, Manyinsa says. Kenya also needs to research tea plant species with high yields which are likely to have tolerance to climate change, he adds.