Tanzania Targets 50% More Tea Output From Planting New Land

(Bloomberg) -- Tanzania aims to raise tea output by at least 47 percent in the next five years and establish an auction to rival the world’s second-largest such sale in neighboring Kenya.

To achieve its goal of becoming a middle-income economy by 2025, the East African nation is modernizing and commercializing its farming sector. Agriculture accounts for about a quarter of economic output, which the government wants to grow 6 percent a year, compared with 3.6 percent in 2017.

The state is targeting 50 million kilograms of tea production, up from the 34 million kilograms harvested in the 12 months through June 2018 and 26.9 million kilograms a year earlier, Tea Board of Tanzania Director-General Nicholaus Mauya said in an interview.

The nation will aim to add farmland under cultivation to 30,000 hectares (74,130 acres) by 2023, a 32 percent increase, he said. While it’s a major export commodity for the nation, tea lags tobacco, cashews, coffee and cotton in the amount of foreign exchange it earns, according to the statistics agency.

Tanzania’s tea is cultivated in five regions: Iringa, Njombe, Tanga, Mbeya and Kagera. “For now we are focusing to increase production in these areas before we can target new zones in the country,” Mauya said by phone.

Neighboring Kenya, the world’s biggest exporter of black tea, projects production this year at 452 million kilograms. Tanzania sells the bulk of its tea at a weekly sale in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa, the second-biggest such auction in the world. Annually, it exports an average of 7,000 metric tons and 10,000 tons through Mombasa, he said.

Tanzania now intends to establish its own auction in Dar es Salaam, the nation’s commercial hub, which is also on the Indian Ocean coast, and is setting up warehouses for bulk storage, he said.

“The plan is still at a primary stage,” Mauya said. “We are currently working to establish a tea trading center.”

The nation also plans to increase exports to markets that consume tea produced through the cut, tear and curl process, while also targeting new destinations such as Russia and Pakistan, Mauya said. The CTC method passes leaves through rollers that crush, tear and coil them into small tight pellets.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.