Kenya eyes Chinese tea market
Nairobi - Kenya on Tuesday said that it is currently formulating strategies in order to export tea into the Chinese market.
The Interim Head of the Tea Directorate Elizabeth Kimenyi told Xinhua in Nairobi that the Chinese market will help to diverse tea export markets.
"We want to reduce our reliance on traditional markets such as Egypt, Britain and Pakistan in order to reduce price fluctuations," Kimenyi said on the sidelines of the Africa Coffee Outlook Conference which kicked off in Nairobi on Tuesday.
She added that despite China's huge domestic tea production, it is still a net importer of tea due to its huge population. The Asian giant mainly produces green tea while Kenya produces black tea.
Data from the agriculture ministry shows that Kenya produced approximately 450 million kilograms of tea last year out of which 95 percent was exported.
"We are expecting to produce a similar amount this year, especially if Kenya experiences optimal rainfall towards the end of the year," Kimenyi said.
She added that tea production was 18 percent below last year for the first three months of 2015. "This was largely due to adverse weather and frost in the key tea growing areas," she noted.
Kenya is the leading exporter of Cut, Tear and Curl (CTC) tea in the world, exporting 499 million kg of tea in 2014.
Overall, tea production declined by 9 percent to 849.44 million kilograms between July 2014 and April from the 933.24 million kilograms realized the previous year.
According to the tea directorate, the brown line which demarcates where tea can be grown is moving up into high altitude.
"We have being trying to promote the tea in international trade expos as the key challenge is where to sell it," she said.