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Kenya’s February Tea Output Doubles on Good Weather, Tea Agency

Tea production in Kenya, the world’s biggest exporter of the black variety of the leaf, more than doubled in February due to favorable weather conditions.

Output rose to 38.5 million kilograms (84.9 million pounds) in February compared with 18.4 million kilograms a year earlier, the Nairobi-based Tea Board of Kenya said in an e-mailed statement today.

“Higher production was largely attributed to less severe hot and dry weather conditions and light rainfall conditions experienced in tea growing areas,” Managing Director Sicily Kariuki said in the statement.

Kenya, East Africa’s largest economy, expects to produce 410 million kilograms in 2013, the highest amount in at least 10 years, Peter Kimanga, chairman of the East African Tea Trade Association, said by phone from Mombasa on April 2.

Production for the first two months rose to 83.8 million kilograms versus 54.6 million kilograms recorded a year earlier. Last year’s output was 369.2 million kilograms, according to the tea board’s website.

“The average price for February was $3.13 per kilo against $2.95 for the corresponding period last year,” Kariuki said. “Higher prices were due to improved demand by most markets in anticipation of supply shortfall in the first quarter.”

Kenya exported 42.9 million kilograms in February compared with 44.7 million kilograms a year earlier. The country made $1.2 billion last year from overseas tea sales, accounting for a fifth of export earnings, according to Central Bank of Kenya data. Shipments to Egypt accounted for 23 percent and other major buyers were Pakistan, the U.K., Afghanistan and United Arab Emirates.

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