BUJUMBURA, June 29 (Reuters) - Burundi’s tea export revenues rose 52 percent in May compared with the same month last year due to high volumes and better global prices, a tea board official said on Wednesday.
The country’s state-run tea board (OTB) said it earned $2.91 million from the export of 1.14 million kg, up from $1.92 million collected in May 2010 after selling 830,844 kg.
“The tea exported in May was produced between March and April, and in this period the output was high,” said OTB’s head of exports, Remy Ndayininahaze.
“Another reason behind this high earning is the low supply of tea on the regional market due to drought affecting some countries such as Kenya,” he told Reuters.
Kenya is the biggest tea producer in East Africa.
Landlocked Burundi exports 80 percent of its tea through a regional weekly auction held in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa.
Ndayininahaze also attributes the high revenues to the improved quality of the commodity, after a complete upgrading of the country’s processing machinery.
He said the average export price per kilogram climbed to $2.55 in May, up from $2.31 in the same period last year.
Tea is Burundi’s second largest foreign exchange earner after coffee and employs some 300,000 smallholder growers in a population of 8 million.
OTB projects 2011 tea production will reach 9,000 tonnes, up from 8,016 tonnes in the previous season, partly due to good rains and an increased use of fertilizers in tea farms.
The board estimates overall revenues for the year at $13.4 million. It collected $18.8 million in 2010 from both domestic and overseas sales. (Reporting by Patrick Nduwimana; edting by George Obulutsa and Keiron Henderson) (For more Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit:af.reuters.com)