Climate change threatens Kenya’s tea industry


Ten-nine-eight-seven-six …… .We were almost there. It wasn’t a countdown to a specific point in time, but to a goal. Or more precisely a degree of latitude.

Soon we were at 0.0’0 ”according to GPS on my cell phone. We were at the equator.

We came because I wanted to emphasize that the consistency of the equatorial climate is the main reason Kenya is such a powerhouse when it comes to tea.

There’s a good chance your next cup of tea will come from this East African nation as the UK drinks more tea from Kenya than any other country.

Kenya is the world’s largest exporter of the most consumed beverage in the world – besides water.

Farmers and pickers told ITV News the climate has become more extreme.

Tea is a picky plant that needs the right temperature, altitude, and reliable rainfall. But climate change affects production.

All the farmers and pickers we met said the climate had become more extreme.

Jane Nyambura said that when she was growing up she would never have imagined seeing a frost in Teeland, and yet it had happened in recent years.

Jane said she never imagined getting sea frost in Kenya, but it has happened in the past few years.

Colder temperatures inhibit growth and one farmer told me that his yield had fallen by a quarter.

Three million Kenyans depend on the tea industry for a living. More than 500,000 are farmers with small holdings of about half an acre.

The pickers are paid for how much harvest they can pick.

Africa accounts for 17% of the world’s population. But the continent only causes around 4% of global CO2 emissions.

Through no fault of their own, the tea-dependent Kenyans are threatened by extreme weather conditions.

The forecasts for tea production over the next 30 years are depressing read.


About Sonia Martinez

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