Burundi Tea Prices Soar

Tea plating

VENTURES AFRICA – Burundi’s tea export revenues soared 78 percent in October from the previous comparable period on huge price increases and volumes, it was announced late on Wednesday.

Late last year, it became clear that tea from Kenya and Burundi was fetching the highest prices at the weekly Mombasa tea auction.

Data that came out last November showed that of all the 12 countries participating at the auction, Kenyan and Burundian tea remained most popular in the year-to-date, recording premium prices compared to the rest.

At the time, the average auction price of Kenyan tea stood at $3.01 per kg. Also, the average price of Burundian tea stood at $2.80 a kg compared to $2.47 in October, 2010, while Rwandan tea sold at $2.76 a kilo compared to $2.59 last October.

Late on Wednesday this week, Joseph Marc Ndahigeze, OTB’s export official, said the export average price per kg climbed to $3.15 from $2.54 the previous year in October.

“Seventy percent of the tea exported in October was produced in September, and in September the harvest in most tea-growing areas was better with a less severe drought compared to last summer,” Ndahigeze said.

He added that earnings also surged on the back of stronger regional market for tea exports.

Burundi’s state-run OTB tea board told Reuters that it had collected $2.15 million from the export of 682.827 kg, up from $1.21 million earned in October 2011 after selling 479.808 kg.

Burundi sells 80 percent of its tea through a weekly regional auction held in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa.

OTB says revenues from exports between January and October reached $22.7 million, topping the $22.2 million collected in all of 2011, and up from $18.2 million earned in 2010.

Tea is Burundi’s second largest foreign exchange earner after coffee and supports some 300,000 smallholder farmers in the central African country of 8 million people.

Analysts said the soaring prices reflected a shift by buyers towards premium quality.

This follows some concerns about quality of tea, especially from Uganda that is used to blend teas in the Egyptian market and Rwanda has also not fared well, hence the demand for Burundian and Kenya tea.