Rwanda tea factories have scooped nearly all the awards in the regional best quality competition held in Nairobi, Kenya.
According to a statement from the National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB), Nyabihu, Rubaya, Muganza and Gisovu tea factories received awards during the 3rd African Tea Convention and Exhibition in Nairobi, Kenya on Thursday.
Teas presented by the four local tea factories scored highly, thanks to the quality.
NAEB said Nyabihu won the best sample accolade was also the first in the PD and BP1 categories , and second in the other two categories - D1 and PF1. The PF1 category was won by Kenya Tea Company while Muganza Kivu was third. Kitabi won the D1 category and Gisovu was third. Rubaya was second in the PD and Gisovu third.
"Rwanda tea is known for its high quality and is among the best in the world. This (high quality) has resulted in gradual increase in its unit price over the past years because our tea is highly valued and sought after at the Mombasa auctions," NAEB said in a statement on Friday.
The export body said that Kitabi Tea Factory emerged the best in the black CTC tea category with top D1 tea grade and best BP1 tea grade, while Nyabihu Tea Factory had the best PD grade and Gisovu, which was third, scooped the best PF1 tea grade.
This year's edition was on the theme, "Sustainable Tea Farming - an inspiring future for nature, health and rewarding livelihoods."
The global is organised by the East Africa Tea Trade Association and aims at providing a great opportunity for tea value chain stakeholders to interact with global tea industry leaders and technology experts, industry experts, researchers and scholars, commodity traders, tea brokers, tea value adders and blenders and input suppliers, among others.
During the meeting, the latest trends and tea products were showcased by different exhibitors from all over the world. Rwanda's tea production increased marginally last year, but its annual export earnings dropped, according to NAEB's monthly report for December 2016.
Tea output rose by 1.82 per cent to over 108.3 million kilogrammes in 2016, up from 106.4 million kilogrames recorded in 2015. However, the sector's export receipts declined to $63.42 million over the period, down from $72.86 million recorded in 2015, indicating a $9.44 million or 12.96 per cent drop compared to 2015 revenue.
Over 24.41 million kilogrammes of 'made' tea were sold in 2016 against 24.78 million kilogrammes in 2015. The beans cost $2.60 per kilogramme on the global market during the reporting period, down from $2.94 per kilo in 2015.
Total production of green leaf dropped to 43.6 million kilogrammes, down from almost 46.4 million kilogrammes in the same period the previous year, representing a decline of 5.85 per cent.
To enhance quality and make the tea sector more competitive, NAEB is implementing a new tea leaf handling model along the value chain.
The agricultural exports agency is also seeking new markets for the country's tea to increase exports. UK buys 21.46 per cent of Rwanda's total tea exports, with 21.16 per cent going to Pakistan, while 16 per cent goes to Egypt. Another 15.6 per cent is sold to Yemen, while 10.6 per cent is bought by Somalia.