•Ocir-The had projected $27m (Rwf15.4b) from 13,000 metric tones of made tea
Rwanda’s export receipts from tea droped to $23.5m (Rwf13.3b) in the first half of 2009 from $24.7m (Rwf13.9m) in the same period last year due to poor rains, Ocir-The said yesterday.
The country’s tea authority also said that total production declined by 90 metric tonnes of made tea to 10,855 metric tones in the first six months of 2009 from 10,945 metric tones in the same period last year.
“We attribute the decline to a number of factors including the poor rains at the beginning of this year which led to low production,” Anthony Butera, the Director General of Ocir-The said in an interview.
Butera said tea pluckers shifted to other business for better pay, leading to less tea available on market.
The state-owned parastatal had projected $27m (Rwf15.4b) from 13,000 metric tones of made tea. The biggest percentage of Rwanda’s tae is sold through the weekly Mombasa auction market but Ocir-The plans to increase direct and local sales.
“Our wish is to have most of our tea sold directly to the clients because it is more profitable since there is an increase in the premium per kilogramme sold,” said Butera.
Despite the low turnover registered so far, the average market price has been better compared to last year. Butera said tea prices on the international market have averaged $2.48 (Rwf1,403) per kilogram from $2.3 (Rwf1,301) last year.
He attributed the increase in the market prices to a general decline of tae supplies.
Management says farm gate prices on the local market have been stable at Rwf86 per kilogram of green leaf.
Last yea, tea generated $45m (Rwf26.6m). The agency has set its sight on this year’s $54m (Rwf30.7b) target despite the low performance.
“If we can add value to the tea that we export, it can take us along way in achieving our target. We are sure to achieve it since we have started exporting ten percent of our sales with value added,” Butera said.
However, the sector is challenged by low wages for casual workers, high costs of fertilisers and high energy costs.