While Kenyan tea exports are set to increase by four percent this year, a strategy has put in place to find other uses for the humble tea leaf.

The future is looking rosy for a Kenyan cup of tea with forecasts that exports are expected to grow by four percent to Sh116 billion in 2013.

The industry’s regulator, the Tea Board of Kenya (TBK) said production will grow marginally by one percent to the end of the year as good growing weather is predicted.

The board’s managing director Sicily Kariuki reported a drop in production of two percent for 2012 compared to the previous year.

However, export volumes for 2012 increased by nine million kilograms to 430m kilos in 2012 with 2013 expected to produce more.

She said: “We do anticipate that from export earnings we are likely to get a four percent increase and we anticipate that the tea prices will remain stable.”

While Kenyan’s tea production dropped from 377.9 million kgs in 2011 to 369.5 million kgs in 2012, exports of its black tea went up by three percent last year.

The TBK has initiated a strategy to help find other uses for tea in order to diversify its customer base. The Kenya Tea Industry Promotion Strategy was established for this purpose.

Kariuki said: “Tea is moving towards medicinal usages and we have also seen tea by-products used for cosmetic and detergent use.

“The tea seed itself has also been extracted as tea oil, which we understand from chemical analysis’ that it’s comparable, if not better to olive oil.”

She added that the strategy was assisting with sustainability the board to establish new markets for Kenya’s tea.

“During the plan period, and working in conjunction with stakeholders and other government agencies, the industry has made some inroads in some of the potential markets such as Russia, UAE, USA, Iran, China, Japan, Nigeria and Poland,” she said.

Source : abdas.org