Workers pick tea at a plantation outside Kericho
Workers pick tea at a plantation outside Kericho February 6, 2008. REUTERS

Burundi's 2010 tea earnings rose 17 percent from the previous year, helped by increased output and higher prices on the world market, the country's tea board said on Monday.

The state-run tea board (OTB) sold 7,561 tonnes of tea at home and overseas for $18.8 million, up from the $16 million it earned in 2009 from 6,699 tonnes.

We were able to sell high volumes due to the use of fertilisers on tea farms, but international prices also improved in 2010 compared with 2009, said OTB General Manager Alexis Nzohabonimana.

Those are the main factors behind these positive results in terms of overall revenues, he told reporters.

OTB said overall 2010 tea output rose 20 percent from the previous season to 8,016 tonnes.

The landlocked country exports 80 percent of its tea through a weekly auction held in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa.

The board said the average export price for Burundian tea in 2010 rose to $2.49 per kg from $2.44 per kg the year before.

Nzohabonimana said that, in light of the successful year, a bonus equivalent to $1 million would be split between all tea farmers based on the quantity of leaves they supplied in 2010.

Tea is Burundi's second-largest hard currency earner after coffee and employs some 300,000 smallholder farmers in a nation of 8 million people.