Tea production in the first five months of the year rose 17 per cent compared with corresponding period last year, with the oversupply hitting growers’ earnings. Data from the Tea Directorate indicate the volume of tea produced between January and May rose to 187 million kilos against the 160 million recorded in similar period last year. The increase was largely informed by the onset of rains. “The increase in production was largely attributed to the onset of the long rain season which was experienced both at the East and West of the Rift,” says the directorate in the monthly report. The average price for the five months of 2018 was lower at Sh280 per kilo compared with Sh297 recorded for the corresponding period of 2017. In May this year, says the report, 30.83 million kilos were sold through the auction against 30.84 million recorded in May 2017. Prices at the auction have been dismal in the last five months in the wake of high volumes. The prices touched a low of Sh236 in last week’s auction. READ: Tea value at Mombasa auction drops to near three-year low The auction had started on a high of Sh270 in the first sale of the year but in the last two months has oscillated between a two- and three-year low. Kenya exports the bulk of its teas to Egypt, UK, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Sudan, Yemen and UAE. The directorate has been pushing for increased local consumption to cut overreliance on exports to boost the price of the commodity in times of glut. . Tea consumption for in five months reviewed stood at 3.19 million against 3.08 million kilos for similar period in 2017.