June 27 (Bloomberg) -- Tea production in Burundi may decline 2.6 percent this year after the crop was damaged by a hail storm in February, the Burundi Tea Board said.
Output may drop from 8,025 tons a year earlier, Alexis Nzobonimana, a director of the Bujumbura-based board, said in an interview on June 23. The storm earlier this year damaged almost all the tea plantations in the country, he said. Growers have also failed to apply fertilizer to their crops, he said.
“They are not able to afford fertilizers prices,” Nzobonimana said.
Burundi relies on tea and coffee to generate 90 percent of its foreign-exchange earnings, according to the CIA World Factbook. Yields in the East African country have fallen from more than 9,000 tons in 2001 because of an insurgency that displaced small-scale farmers, who account for 80 percent of production. In the first five months of this year, farmers harvested 4,492 tons of the leaves, Nzobonimana said.
The Tea Board plans to help boost production by urging farmers to use more fertilizer. Growers are also being paid more for their crop, Nzobonimana said.
In January, the price paid to tea farmers for their leaves was increased to 220 Burundian francs (18 cents) from 200 francs. The rate is expected to be revised every six months, he said.
--Editors: Paul Richardson, Alastair Reed.
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