Ugandan MPs on study tour to learn from Rwanda’s experience in producing high quality tea
A delegation of Ugandan Members of Parliament (MPs) are in Rwanda for a study tour meant to learn from the country’s experience in producing one of the best quality teas in the world.
The delegation, who are all members of the committee on tourism, trade, industry and cooperatives of Uganda’s parliament, on March 21, 2017 paid a courtesy call on Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Dr Gerardine Mukeshimana, and shared experiences in strengthening tea value chain in both countries.
MP Alex Ruhunda, the head of the Ugandan delegation, said their mission is meant to learn from Rwanda’s experience because Rwanda tea has a very good record on the world tea market.
“When we moved to Mombasa tea auction, we found a fascinating story about Rwanda where the price of Rwanda tea was between 3.2USD and 4USD per kg while ours was far below between 1.6USD and 2.6USD per kg. That’s the reason why we decided to come here to learn from you,” MP Ruhunda told senior officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI).
The Ugandan MP added that they had to come and see what special things Rwanda is doing to ensure that they have the best tea.
According to Minister Mukeshimana, the best quality of Rwanda’s tea is a result of combination of efforts made over the past years by public & private actors and other stakeholders.
The government has been mobilizing investors into tea industry and does land mobilization, expropriation & development for new tea sites. The government also provides tea growers with seedlings, improved green leaf transportation, rehabilitation of abandoned tea plantations. Through the National Agriculture Export Development Board (NAEB), the government intervenes in improving tea quality- through training tea puckers and support tea cooperatives in productivity increase through Fertilizer application and Farmer field schools.
Amb. George Bill Kayonga, CEO of NAEB, explained that value addition in Rwanda is done through blending, packaging tea, market and sell Rwanda teas in the domestic and region markets. There are six companies that sell Rwanda tea in a value added form, and most of Rwanda tea are certified with ISO, rainforest alliance and fair-trade, he added.
Figures from NAEB indicate that estimated total area under tea plantations is 26,700 ha while productive area under tea plantations is 18,820 ha. Average yield per hectare in old plantations is 6,915 kg/ha while in new plantations is 1,667 kg/ha.
Rwanda now counts an estimated number of 46,132 tea farmers. There are currently 15 tea factories across Rwanda while others are still under construction. With 2004 privatization, today all Rwanda tea factories are private owned while the government keeps providing tea farmers with technical support to increase productivity.
With an annual production of 24,000 - 26,000 MT tea, Rwanda fetches 60 – 72 million USD annually from tea export sales, according to the CEO of NAEB.
Introduced in Rwanda in 1952, most of tea produced in the country is black tea – about 99%. However, white tea, green tea and orthodox tea are also produced. 72% of Rwanda Tea is traded through Mombasa auction.
After getting the overview on Rwanda’s tea industry, the Ugandan MPs commended the ministry’s efforts to position Rwanda tea among the best ones in the world; noting that they’ve learned a lot from Rwanda.
“We’re so much equipped to develop our country’s development; especially our tea industry,” pointed out MP Ruhunda.
Published on 21st March, 2017
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