By Fred Ojambo
Uganda, Africa’s third-biggest tea producer, increased its forecast for production for 2017 as rains earlier this year help revive a crop that had been damaged by drought. Output may climb to 60 million kilograms (132 million pounds) from an initial forecast that production would hold steady at 56 million to 57 million kilograms from the previous year, George William Ssekitoleko, executive secretary of the Kampala-based Uganda Tea Association, said in a phone interview.
Rains from March to May rejuvenated the crop after drought last year and early this year cut yields, Ssekitoleko said. Also, “there has been increased planting, including introducing the crop in new areas,” he said. It’s possible for the East African nation, with 40,000 hectares (99,000 acres) cultivated, to surpass record output of 66 million kilograms in 2014, if the weather is good, Ssekitoleko said.
Uganda exports at least 95 percent of its crop, mainly through the world’s biggest tea auction in Mombasa, Kenya, according to the association, which represents growers and exporters. Kenya and Malawi are the biggest tea producers in Africa. The Ugandan unit of McLeod Russel India Ltd. accounts for about a quarter of the African nation’s production, according to the association.
- Possible for nation to surpass record if weather good: Growers
- Increased planting, including in new areas, also helps harvest.