Kenya Lifts Logging Ban That Tea Growers Warned Could Cut Output

(Bloomberg) -- Kenya’s government will partially lift a ban on logging, the Environment and Forestry Ministry said after tea growers warned the moratorium would remove an important source of energy for the industry.

Large-scale tea farmers in Kenya, who account for 40 percent of output, rely on wood-fired energy for the drying process, according to the East African Tea Traders Association. The country is the world’s largest exporter of the black variety of the leaves.

“Harvesting and felling in private plantations and woodlots is permitted provided that there is a joint verification and confirmation of source and origin,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry imposed a blanket ban on logging on Feb. 24, citing concerns about declining forestry coverage. The embargo is still in place in public and community forests and prohibits the logging and transportation of timber.

Private farms have almost 15,000 hectares of private forests they say are used in a sustainable manner for the past 80 years, Apollo Kiarie, chief executive officer of the Kenya Tea Growers Association, said by phone from Nairobi.

Kenyan farmers harvested 439,000 metric tons of tea last year and output could rise to 452,000 tons in 2018 on improved weather, according to the Agriculture Ministry. The crop generated 129 billion shillings ($1.3 billion) of foreign-exchange earnings for the country in 2017.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.