Aflatoxins stand-off cuts Kenyan tea exports to Pakistan by half

 By: Oscar Nkala,

Kenyan tea exports to top buyer Pakistan dropped by half in January this year when compared to the same period in 2017 after the Asian country imposed strict testing and safety regulations to prevent the importation of aflatoxin-infested products.

According to the Kenyan Tea Directorate, the total value of tea exports in January fell to Sh3.7 billion, from Sh7.4 billion in the same period last year. According to the directorate, exports slumped soon after the Plant Protection Board of Pakistan ordered all tea imports from Kenya to undergo exhaustive aflatoxin tests following the detection of fungi in some samples.

“Obviously the decline in tea exports to Pakistan in January was a result of the requirement for an aflatoxin clearance certificate for Kenyan tea, which has since been removed,” said a senior official of the directorate.

The strict testing and reporting requirements have since been removed following intense lobbying by the Pakistan Tea Association. On average, Kenya exports nearly 40% of its tea products to Pakistan annually.

In the past two years, Kenyan tea exports to Iran, Pakistan and Sudan have been threatened by stand-offs over public health and food safety concerns over issues that include shelf-life, residual pesticide contamination and excessive moisture content.