Burundi's tea export earnings fell 5 per cent in November compared with the same month last year, affected by lower prices on the regional market, the country's state-run tea board said on Monday.
Tea is Burundi's second largest hard currency earner after coffee, and the tea board forecast that total earnings for this year would be higher than in the previous year.
The tea board (OTB) said it collected $762,794 from the sale of 309 tonnes of tea against $807,520 from selling 298 tonnes in November 2009.
"Prices at Mombasa market were down due to high volumes of tea offered," said Remy Ndayininahaze, head of the export department at OTB.
"This has had a negative impact on Burundi's tea prices and revenues", he told Reuters.
The landlocked country sells 80 per cent of its tea through a regional weekly auction held in the Kenya's port city of Mombasa, Kenya.
Ndayininahaze said the average price dropped to $2.46 per kg in November, from $2.70 per kg in the same period last year.
However, cumulative earnings rose to $16.9 million from 6,854 tonnes sold between January and November. OTB earned $14.2 million in the same period in 2009, from the sale of 5,923 tonnes.
Total revenues up to November have already exceeded 2009 earnings of $16 million.
"We are confident that 2010 earnings will go beyond those of the previous year, due to high volumes and improved quality of our tea," said Remy Ndayininahaze.
The tea sector in Burundi employs 300,000 smallholder farmers in a nation of 8 million people.
The board projects tea output to reach 7,500 tonnes this year from 7,000 tonnes in 2009, due to good climate conditions and the use of fertilisers.