Naads tea interventions expected to double tea production and boost the tea industry by 2020..contentadmin
Tea is one of the priority cash crop commodities in the Agricultural Sector Strategy and Investment Plan (ASSP of 2015/16-2019/20
Tea is an important crop commodity to Uganda. Close to 80,000 farming households are involved in tea production and it supports over 150,000 skilled and unskilled workers. Approximately, 1,000,000 people directly derive their livelihood from tea growing.
Presently, Tea estates produce 54% of the tea while the small holder tea growers contribute 46% of the total acreage. Traditional tea growing districts are: Mukono, Buikwe, Mubende, Mityana, Masaka in the central region, Kyenjojo, Kibale, Hoima and Kabarole in the western region, Bushenyi, Buhweju, Kanungu and Kabale in south western Uganda. Recently, tea growing has expanded to new Districts like Kabale, Kisoro, Rubanda, Rukungiri, Sheema, Nebbi, Zombo, Isingiro, Ntungamo, Mitooma, Rubirizi, Kamwenge and Mbarara. Todate Government through NAADS/OWC has supported farmers with 446 million tea seedlings worth UGX 202 bn
Tea plantations in Ntungamo
NAADS has issued guidelines for production, procurement and distribution of tea Seedlings in Uganda have been developed and will soon be disseminated.
These guidelines are intended to address the current and future challenges in tea seedling production to ensure a successful government poverty eradication intervention and a vibrant tea industry in Uganda. Furthermore these guidelines if well implemented will streamline the production, procurement and distribution of the tea seedlings to improve the performance of the tea industry in the country. Below are a few success stories from farmers Government has supported;
A number of tea farmers from Kyenjojo district have a reason to smile following the introduction of the farmers’ National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) program in 2010 which later on transited into the Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) in 2016.
Most farmers have since the introduction of the program doubled their production capacity by taking advantage of the tea plantlets offered by government.
The high demand for tea plantlets by farmers has given birth to quite a number of nursery beds in the area.
David Kisembo a nursery bed operator in Busasa village Bugaki Sub County today produces over 300,000 tea plantlets per season.
“At first I produced just 10,000 plantlets for my own garden but when I realized that there was ready market in government under the OWC program I increased my production every after season until to date where I can produce over 300,000 plantlets” Kisembo said.
Having started from a very small piece of land which he inherited from his family while starting the business, Kisembo’s nursery bed today sits on a 2 acre piece of land which he procured after making profits.
He has also managed to set up a 15 tea garden with support from the Operation Wealth Creation.
Due to the fact that his business involves transportation and deliveries, Kisembo has had to procure himself a truck to ease movement of his goods and services.
George Rujumba another nursery bed operator says that with support from government he has managed to grow his business from producing 80,000 tea plantlets to now 2m plantlets per season.
Rujumba has offered employment to over 40 youths in his nursery bed in Bwasiri village in Kyenjojo district.
“Government has offered us ready market for our tea plantlets. This has encouraged us to keep on expanding the size of the nursery bed” Rujumba said.
Over the years Rujumba says that he has also managed to procure 40 acres of land some of which he has already started planting tea.
“My target is to plant enough tea so that am able to harvest at least 300,000kg of green leaf every month” he said.
A kilogram of green leaf today costs sh 500.
Robert Rwamwenge is a large scale tea farmer in Bugaki Kyenjojo district. To date, he owns a total of 300 acres of planted tea. Rwamwenge started benefiting from the government’s agricultural program in 2010.
“When I joined the NAADs program I had only 150 acres of tea then. But today I own a total of 300 acres and am still planting more because government has promised us more seedlings” Rwamwenge said. Because of the dry season, Rwamwenge says that he now harvests only 100,000kg of green leaf. Due to the high demand for tea plantlets, Rwamwenge also doubles as a nursery bed operator in the area. George Kalyegira another tea farmer in Kihoiga village Kyenjojo district says that he targets to plant at least 7 acres of tea.
“I started benefiting from the NAADS program in 2010 and by then I had only 1.5 acres of planted tea. My garden has since grown to now 5.5 acres” Kalyegira said. According to Kalyegira before the introduction of the Operation Wealth Creation program the high prices of tea plantlets was discouraging farmers from expanding their gardens by planting more tea.
Kalyegira a retired civil servant says that he has managed to support his family and educate his children to University level.
“I harvest at least 4000kg of green leaf per month but before the introduction of the Operation Wealth Creation program I was getting only 400kg and selling each kilogram at sh 500” he said.
When asked why he is only targeting 7 acres, he said tea growing can be very expensive and he therefore does not want to grab tea seedlings from Government and they end up drying under a shade.
Kalyegira explains that he considers setting up a standard tea garden so that it can serve as his pension since he no longer earns a monthly salary from government. “I want to educate my children so that while I can no longer support myself to move, my children will be able to manage the tea plantation, balance the books and bring me the money” Kalyegira said.
Tea Production and marketing
Due to the availability of green leaf, farmers in Kyenjojo under their cooperative have managed to build their own tea factory.
Mabale Growers Tea Factory is owned by over 2,000 share holder farmers that are spread across Kyenjojo and other neighboring districts.
The factory provides market to the farmers’ tea green leaf.
Rogers Siima the factory general manager says that the supply of tea plantlets to farmers by government has greatly increased the supply base of the factory’s raw material.
“We are there to process the green leaf that farmers grow” Siima said.
He explains during the peak season, the factory operates at a full capacity of 100% because of the availability of enough green leaf. “With the incoming of the Operation Wealth Creation, we have seen an increase in the tea area and tea production” he said. According to Siima the factory has expanded its processing capacity and is currently in the process of setting up a third production line.
The amount of green leaf tea the factory receives annually has grown from 10m kilograms to currently 20m kilograms. He stated that the availability of enough green leaf has also caused other individuals to set up private tea factories. Today the factory produces 23 tons of already made tea which is exported to Mombasa.