Uganda Expects Biggest Tea Harvest Yet After Favorable Weather

(Bloomberg) -- Uganda, Africa’s third-biggest tea producer, expects output to surpass a record harvest in 2014 as it increased its forecast of the crop for the second time this year.

Production will rise to 70 million kilograms (70,000 metric tons) in 2018, up from a previous estimate of 66 million kilograms, which had been a revision of the initial 60 million-kilogram target set at the start of the year, according to George William Ssekitoleko, executive secretary at the Uganda Tea Association, a lobby group for growers and exporters. In 2014, farmers produced a historic 66 million kilograms.

“We expect more tea because the rains have been good and it has been shining, which gives a good combination for good yields,” Ssekitoleko said Thursday by phone from the capital, Kampala. “Supply from the crop planted in the last five years is increasing.”

The Uganda National Meteorological Authority said early September most of the East African country will receive above-normal rainfall through to December.

Uganda, Africa’s biggest coffee exporter, is encouraging more tea shipments to boost income and diversify foreign-exchange earnings.

Establishment of two new tea factories in the southwest boosted supply after they encouraged leaf deliveries from farmers. Previously growers had to transport the leaves for more than 50 kilometers (31 miles) to the nearest processing center. The ideal distance is a radius of 20 kilometers, Ssekitoleko said.

Uganda grows tea on about 40,000 hectares (99,000 acres) and sells at least 95 percent of it at the world’s second-biggest tea auction in Mombasa, in neighboring Kenya, according to the industry association. Kenya and Malawi are the continent’s biggest producers of the leaves.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.