Kenya, the world’s largest exporter of black tea, forecast production of the leaves will jump 22 percent in the second quarter on improved rainfall.
Output may climb to 104 million kilograms (229 million pounds) in the second quarter from 85 million kilograms in the same period a year earlier and 93 million kilograms in 2011, Tea Board of Kenya Managing Director Sicily Kariuki said yesterday in response to e-mailed questions.
“Production is expected to be enhanced during the period with the highest production expected in the month of April as the rains are much more enhanced compared to those of similar seasons over the last few years,” she said.
Kenya expects to produce 410 million kilograms of tea this year, the highest amount in at least 10 years, the East African Tea Trade Association said on April 2. The crop generated $1.2 billion of export earnings last year, a fifth of total foreign- exchange receipts, according to the central bank.
The country’s so-called long rains, the first of two wet seasons, began in mid-March and end in June. The short rains begin in October and end in December.
Floods across the country killed at least 39 people and displaced 66,000, the Kenya Red Cross said yesterday. The rains may damage roads in tea-growing areas, though “no significant impact has been reported,” Kariuki said.
While greenhouses and roads used by flower companies to transport their goods have been damaged, production is little changed following the onset of the rains, Jane Ngige, chief executive officer of the Kenya Flower Council, said in a separate interview.
Horticulture, which includes flowers, fruits and vegetables, is Kenya’s third-biggest foreign exchange-earner, after tea and tourism. Kenya supplies a third of the cut flowers sold in Europe.
“When it is wet, disease incidents tend to go up, but we are going into a less demanding season so we don’t expect a major drop in production,” Ngige said.
Kenya’s earnings from flower exports reached 58.4 billion shillings ($695.2 million) in the 11 months through November, compared with 58.8 billion shillings for the whole of 2011, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
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