Climate change threatening Kenya's tea industry

ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine reports on climate change concerns from Kenya

Ten-nine-eight-seven-six…….We were almost there. It wasn’t a countdown to a moment in time, but to a destination. Or more specifically a latitude.

Soon, according to the GPS on my phone, we had arrived at 0.0’0”. We were on the Equator.

We had come because I wanted to make the point 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 cuppa will come from this east African nation because the UK drinks more tea from Kenya than from any other country.

Kenya is the world’s biggest exporter of what is – apart from water – the world’s most consumed drink.

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

Tea is a fussy plant that needs the right temperature, altitude and reliable rainfall. But climate change is affecting output.

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

Jane Nyambura said that when she was growing up she never imagined seeing a frost in tea country and yet it had happened in recent years.

Jane said she had never imagined to sea frost in Kenya but it has happened in recent years.

Colder temperatures stunt growth and one farmer told me his yield had gone down by a quarter.

Three million Kenyans rely on the tea industry for their livelihoods. More than 500,000 are farmers with small holdings of around half an acre.

The pickers are paid by how much crop they are able to pick.

Africa accounts for 17% of the world’s population. But the continent only accounts for roughly 4% of global carbon emissions.

Through no fault of their own Kenyans reliant on tea are threatened by weather extremes.

The projections for tea production over the next 30 years make for depressing reading.