(Bloomberg) -- Kenyan tea growers sent approximately half of their workers on leave or deployed them to non-core duties due to a prolonged drought that’s halved production at leaf-processing factories.

“We are operating for three days a week because there is no crop to pluck,” Kenya Tea Growers Association’s Chief Executive Officer Apollo Kiarii said by phone Tuesday. “About half the number of workers who are supposed to run the operation fully are not working. We are supposed to be operating for six days in a week.”

Companies under the Kenya Tea Growers Association employ as many as 55,000 workers, Kiarii said. Kenya is the world’s biggest black tea exporter and earned 141 billion shillings ($1.4 billion) from a record crop of 492.9 million kilograms in 2018.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Ombok in Nairobi at eombok@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Malingha at dmalingha@bloomberg.net, Helen Nyambura, Alastair Reed

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