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Tea exporters cry foul
Author£ºColourful Tea    Time£º2007-6-11    Hits£º2127

By Patrick Beja and Moses Njagih

Tea exporters have expressed concern over cargo delays at Mombasa port following continued congestion in the past five months.

The traders under the East African Tea Trade Association (EATTA), expressed fears that weekly exports could be affected if Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) did not resolve the crisis.

EATTA chairman, Mr Nicholas Munyi, said the congestion was a setback to the association¡¯s weekly exports of between 10 and 12 million kilogrammes of the commodity.

KPA Managing Director, Mr Abdallah Mwaruwa, said urgent measures had been taken to solve the problem.

He said tea was a special export cargo because of its strong effect on the national economies of the East and Central African countries.

Meanwhile, Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA), Managing Director, Mr Lerionka Tiampati has attributed the current fall in tea prices to over supply in the world markets.

Tiampati also said the continued strengthening of the shilling against major currencies, notably the US dollar was to blame.

He said global tea production had outstripped consumption.

"This surplus has facilitated a downward pressure on the price of tea as the supply in the world market outstrips the consumption demand and with Kenya being in the forefront of the increased production, then the earnings from the crop becomes affected," he said.

In a speech read on his behalf by the agency¡¯s senior manager, Mr Boniface Kimani during a farmers¡¯ field day at Thumaita Tea Factory in Kirinyaga at the weekend, Tiampati cited increased production as the greatest challenge affecting the sector.

"Our focus is on quality which will enable us to be assured of a ready market as well as efficiency and reduction in wastage and thereby earning better returns for the farmers," he said.

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