High temperatures dent national tea output

Source: High temperatures dent national tea output | The Herald December 9, 2016

Business Reporter—

EXTREMELY high temperatures experienced in Zimbabwe’s tea growing areas between September and November are likely to dent this years’ national output, industry players said.In the first estimate, growers were expecting about 16 million kilogrammes, more or less last year’s output, but production is likely to be slightly below 14 million kilogrammes.

However, the production estimates are provisional and subject to revision, said an official who requested not to be named.

“The bushes were badly burnt between September and November and by the time we started receiving the rains, it was too late to resuscitate the leaves,” said the official.

In Zimbabwe, tea is harvested year round and peak tea production coincides with the rainy season.

The local tea sector is dominated by three manufacturers, namely Tanganda Tea Company, which accounts for about 50 percent of bulk tea production, Eastern Highlands Plantation, the second largest, Ariston Holdings, Buzi Tea and Arda Katiyo Tea. Tea plantations are situated in Nyanga, Chipinge and Honde Valley.

At the average production level of 16 million per annum, Zimbabweans consume four million kg, of which one million is imported. The country exports about 11 million kg of bulk tea to regional markets. A Manicaland Investment Profile prepared by the Government with the assistance of the business community indicated that there are vast tracts of underutilised land that can boost production to 25 million kg.

“This can be achieved if we can get Government support particularly on import restrictions,” another official said.

Tea producers have since written to Government seeking import restrictions on black and flavoured teas to boost capacity. In an interview with The Herald Business recently, committee member of Zimbabwe Tea Growers’ Association Mr Henry Nemaire, also the managing director of Tanganda, said Zimbabwe was importing about one million kilogrammes of tea per year worth $5 million despite local companies having capacity to adequately supply the domestic market.

The sector employs 10 000 people over and above 3 100 smallholder farmers supported under various schemes funded by large corporates.