Burundi tea revenues drop on weaker global market

A worker picks tea at a plantation in Githunguri, 30 km (18 miles) from Kenya's capital Nairobi, January 6, 2012. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

BUJUMBURA (Reuters) - Burundi's tea export earnings slumped 65 percent in October from the same month last year, pushed lower by a weaker world market and higher tea output in Kenya, the country's state-run tea board (OTB) said on Thursday.

Tea earnings dropped to $740,791 from $2.15 million in October 2012, with the east African country exporting 400,010 kg versus 682,827 kg the previous year.

"Prices and earnings for Burundi's commodity were seriously affected by lower global prices and a higher cumulative production of Kenyan tea," OTB export official Joseph Marc Ndahigeze told Reuters.

In a report, OTB said the average price of exported tea in October fell to $1.85 per kilogram from $3.15 last year. Tea revenues for the ten months to October totalled $18.5 million, down from $22.9 million earned in the same period in 2012.

Landlocked Burundi exports 80 percent of its tea through a regional weekly auction held in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa. Kenya is the biggest regional producer and the world's top exporter of black tea.

Tea is the country's second-largest hard currency earner after coffee and employs some 300,000 smallholder growers in a nation of over 8 million people.