KIGALI (Reuters) – Burundi’s earnings from tea were up by nearly 64 percent in the last nine months as sales volumes and prices increased, boosted by a drop in Kenya’s output, a tea board official said on Wednesday.
Production in Kenya, the world leading exporter of black tea, can influence the regional market, while Burundi exports 80 percent of its tea through a regional weekly auction held in Mombasa.
Burundi’s state-run tea board (OTB) said it earned $27.3 million between January and September, up from $16.7 million in the same period last year and ahead of the $21.3 million it earned in the whole of 2014.
Exports are up at 8,959,321 kg of tea this year from 7,743,972 kg last year.
The tea industry has emerged largely unscathed from several months of political unrest over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s contested third term in office that has affected other sectors of the country’s fragile economy.
Tea is Burundi’s second-largest hard currency earner after coffee and employs some 300,000 smallholder growers in a nation of 10 million people.
“The combination of higher sales and a decline of Kenya’s tea production has boosted prices as well as earnings for Burundi’s tea,” OTB’s head of exports, Joseph Marc Ndahigeze, told Reuters.
The average export price per kg jumped to $3.05 from $2.16 in 2014, OTB said in its report.
(Reporting by Patrick Nduwimana; Editing by Edith Honan, Greg Mahlich, Reuters)