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Thursday, 29 August, 2002, 17:50 GMT 18:50 UK
Uganda tea exports fall sharply
Tea bags
Tea is Uganda's third leading export
Bad weather has damaged the east African country's tea production facilities and caused a sharp fall in tea exports, industry officials have said.

The east African country's tea exports fell 16.4% in July when compared with a year earlier to 2,190,000 kilos, the Uganda Tea Authority said.

So far this year, Uganda's tea exports have slipped 2.1% from the first seven months of 2001 to 17,360,000 kilos

"The weather has not been good to the crop this season. We have had more sun than is necessary," said the authority's secretary-general, Isaac Munabi.

Low prices

The unusually dry weather in Uganda has hindered the tea leafs' proper growth to maturity.

Production levels have fallen sharply as a consequence to 17,470,000 kilos for the January to July period, down 6.28% on last year.

A slightly higher average price at the Mombassa tea auction in Kenya - $0.86 per kilo as opposed to last year's $0.85 per kilo - has made up for some of the loss in output.

However, this price was sharply lower than the 2000 price. Consequently, Uganda's earnings from tea exports fell to $33.2m in 2001 from $36.4m in 2000.

For 2002 as a whole, the tea authority expects production levels to come in at a similar level to last year's at 33,300,000 kilos.

Crucial product

Only 3% of Uganda's tea is consumed at home. The rest is exported.

The is Uganda's third leading export after fish and coffee.

Uganda's export diversification program aims to boost tea production to 40,000,000 kilos by 2005.

In 1991, Uganda produced 8,800,000 kilos of tea, down from 23,000,000 kilos in 1972.

See also:

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