The National Agriculture export Board (NAEB) is strengthening efforts aimed at boosting the country’s tea exports and revenue. According to Issa Nkurunziza, the tea division manager at NAEB, the export body has devised new strategies to reduce losses and ensure quality of green leaf tea among farmers and producers.
The body is also going to continue supporting initiatives to expand the acreage under tea, Nkurunziza added.
“The overall objective is to increase productivity to increase the country’s export volumes,” Nkurunziza told Business Times.
Nkurunziza added that encouraging more Rwandans to consume tea and marketing the country’s tea brands to increase demand on the international stage remains top priority.
He said NAEB will equally continue to ensure quality and promote value addition along the value chain to make the tea sector more competitive.
High demand during auction
Meanwhile, the demand for Rwanda’s tea increased during last week’s Mombasa tea auction. According to the export body more than 136,100 packages were offered and sold compared to 123,784 packages during the same period last year.
Nkrurunziza said tea prices averaged about $3.2 per kilogramme, thanks to the “improved quality of tea the country is bringing to the market”.
In 2014, government through NAEB signed agreements with co-operatives and tea processing factories to scale up production and exports.
Under the deals, the agro-exports body pledged to provide capacity building, including training to ensure proper agrinomical practices among farmers.
Revenues and output
Rwanda fetched more than $23 million from tea exports in the first quarter of 2017, an increase from $18.9 million recorded over the same period in 2016.
The export body attributed the increase to the good prices during the first three months of 2017 that averaged $3.02 per kilogramme.
Total production of “made tea” was over 2.4 million kilogrammes or a 10.7 per cent drop compared to 2.69 million kilogrammes produced during the same period last year. Total green leaf production amounted to 10.4 million kilogrammes, a decrease of 11.7 per cent compared to 11.79 million kilos registered the same period in 2016.
On a quarterly basis, total production of green leaf for the first quarter was 30.38 million kilos compared to 34.3 million kilogrammes produced over the same period in 2016. To further enhance quality, NAEB is implementing a new tea leaf handling model along the value chain to make the sector more competitive.