Tea production in Kenya, the world’s biggest exporter of the black variety of the leaves, may miss the government’s targeted 25 percent increase this year as an extended dry spell damages the crop. Coffee output will also be hurt.
The La Nina weather phenomenon, which causes dryness in eastern Africa, is replacing the rain-inducing El Nino effect that resulted in heavy rainfall from October to December and helped boost tea output in the Central and Rift Valley growing regions by more than a third in the first eight months of 2016 from a year earlier.
La Nina may cut precipitation in the final three months of this year, and “the tea leaves are becoming dry and falling off,” Johnson Irungu, the Agriculture Ministry’s director of crops, said in an Oct. 25 interview in the capital, Nairobi. Production volumes shrank after the bumper harvest in the first quarter, meaning the industry may fall short of a 500 million-kilogram (1.1 million-pound) government target for the year, he said.