Ugandan Tea Production Dropped 21% in First Quarter on `Under-Reporting'

Tea output in Uganda, Africa’s third- biggest producer of the leaf, fell 21 percent in the first quarter after “some producers” failed to report their crop, the Uganda Tea Association said.

Production dropped to 8.98 million kilograms (19.8 million pounds) in the three months through March, from 11.4 million kilograms a year earlier, Betty Mpologoma, an official at the association, said by phone today from the capital, Kampala.

“The figures we have now do not reflect the true picture because some producers haven’t filed their returns since January,” she said, without providing more information.

Output in the East African country may increase as much as 8 percent this year because of more planting, better farm management and improved weather, George William Ssekitoleko, the association’s executive secretary, said last month. Production may total as much as 54 million kilograms, compared with 50 million kilograms in 2009, he said.

Provisional exports fell 33 percent in the first quarter to 7.6 million kilograms, Mpologoma said. The country shipped 48.5 million kilograms of the leaf worth $92 million last year, compared with 42.4 million kilograms valued at $76 million in 2008.

Uganda, whose output is exceeded only by Kenya and Malawi in Africa, ships most its tea through the weekly auction at Mombasa in neighboring Kenya.

Tea production, which slumped to 5.6 million kilograms in 1985 from 23 million kilograms in 1972, recovered after the government returned estates confiscated during the rule of former dictator Idi Amin to their owners.

To contact the reporter on this story: Fred Ojambo in Kampala via Johannesburg at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

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