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Uganda, Africa’s third-biggest tea grower, reduced its forecast for the 2012 crop by 1.8 percent after a drought in the first quarter cut yields, the Uganda Tea Association said.
The output estimate was revised to 54 million kilograms (119 million pounds) from an initial forecast of 55 million kilograms in January, George William Ssekitoleko, the association’s executive secretary, said by phone today from Kampala, the capital.
“The drought in January to March affected the blossoming of leaves since the crop needs good rains,” he said. “Production will drop for the second year after we got a record level in 2010.”
Tea is one of the main foreign-exchange earners for Uganda, which consumes about 3 percent of its annual crop and exports most of its leaves through the world’s largest tea auction at Mombasa, in neighboring Kenya. Uganda, which is Africa’s largest coffee exporter, experienced the worst drought in 60 years this season, leading to food shortages.
This may be the second annual decline in output after production dropped to 56 million kilograms in 2011 from 59 million kilograms a year earlier, he said.
A local unit of McLeod Russell India Ltd. (MCLR), the world’s biggest tea producer, accounts for a quarter of the nation’s annual crop, according to the association.
Kenya and Malawi are the biggest growers of tea in Africa.
To contact the reporter on this story: Fred Ojambo in Kampala at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson at email@example.com.