Kenya’s tea export revenues witnessed a 31 percent growth in 2023, surpassing the income generated from horticulture exports during the same period, the sector regulator- Tea Board of Kenya has disclosed.

The earnings soared to Ksh180.5 billion in the review period, marking a significant increase from the previous year’s Ksh138 billion.

This surge in earnings can be attributed to amplified export volumes and a depreciation of the national currency, which proved advantageous for exporters in the preceding year.

In contrast, horticulture exports yielded Ksh156 billion in income in 2023, trailing behind the impressive performance of the tea sector.

Pakistan solidified its standing as the primary purchaser of Kenyan tea, contributing to 42 percent of the total export earnings.

Despite a challenging economic scenario and a temporary suspension of non-essential imports, including tea, due to a dollar crunch, Pakistan managed to import tea worth Ksh75 billion in 2023.

The quantity of Kenyan tea offered at auctions during 2023 reached 592.29 million kgs, demonstrating a substantial increase from the 506.47 million kgs recorded in 2022.

Notably, Egypt and the UK emerged as the second and largest buyers of Kenyan tea, importing tea worth Ksh22 billion and Ksh15 billion, respectively.

Despite economic challenges faced by these top buyers, including dollar shortages and currency devaluation, their tea purchases experienced growth.

Egypt, grappling with a shortage of dollars and a weakened pound, faced negative implications on consumer purchasing power, contributing to inflationary pressures in a country where 60 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

To reduce dependence on major buyers, which currently constitute 85 percent of total exported volumes, the TBK is actively exploring new markets for Kenyan tea, thus diversifying the sources of revenue for this key commodity.

gandae@businessdayafrica.org