Rwanda's tea export volumes and revenues recorded big increases last year driven by good weather conditions and better prices on the global market, the National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB) annual report has indicated.
According to the report, the country earned close to $84.3 million (about Rwf72.6 billion) in foreign exchange from tea exports last year, higher than $78 million earlier projected by NAEB or an increase by 108 per cent during the reporting period.
In 2016, the country recorded over $63.4 million (Rwf54.7 billion), which represents an increase of 32.8 per cent in value terms.
The agro-export body attributes the good performance to higher volumes exported and good prices on the international market. Last year, the average price of tea on the global market was $3.21 per kilogramme compared to $2.6 the previous year.
NAEB interventions pay off
Rwanda's total 'made tea' production rose by 2,258,353 kilogrammes or 9 per cent from 25,628,412 kilogrammes in 2016 to 27,886,765 kilogrammes last year.
Total green leaf out by all the processing factories was at 116,673,563 kilos over the period compared to 108,344,002 kilogrammes produced the previous year, the NAEB report shows. This represents an increase of 7.6 per cent in volumes, attributable to the establishment of new tea factories - Karongi, Mushubi, Rutsiro and Rugabano.
"The good performance was also driven by the expansion of tea plantations, implementation of good practices in tea growing, as well as regular training for farmers, timely and appropriate application of fertilisers and good rains recorded in the tea growing zone in 2017," according to the report.
Mombasa auction sales soar
The country sold most of its teas through the Mombasa auction, with sales revenue representing 71 per cent of total values, while direct sales revenue contributed 29 per cent. The total revenues generated through Mombasa auction increased to nearly $59.7 million from 18,731,954 kilos sold at an average of $3.18 each, while over $24.6 million was earned through direct sales of 7,510,755 kilogrammes of tea at $3.28, the report shows.
The beverage is sold under the national brand, Rwanda Tea, which seeks to increase visibility of country's teas and help make the sector more competitive.
Tea is one of the top foreign exchange earners for Rwanda and is exported to more than 48 countries in Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East.