I have decided to start advising my country on what I studied while at university. I come from Kanungu kigezi south western Uganda. Our people have taken up tea growing as a source of livelihood. I therefore want to educate you about tea I want to educate you about its production, the advantages and disadvantages. I will write thirty articles in the next two months (one article after every two days). The reason I want to do this is to guide you such that you understand where I come from. When any one responds to me I will not hastate I will simply answer them. Today I am going to start by giving an overview of what tea growing in Uganda is like
Ugandan tea is commonly grown on the slopes of Mount Rwenzori and along the crescent of Lake Victoria areas of Bushenyi, Hoima, Kabarole, Kanungu, Kibaale, Kisoro, Mbarara, Mukono, Mityana, Rukungiri and Wakiso. These areas are consistent with tea growing requirements of a temperate climate with an average precipitation of between 1000mm and 1500mm for not less than 150 days per annum. In the above areas, temperatures range from 200C-250C, an altitude of over 1500m above sea level with rich well drained fertile soils and soil alkalinity levels of not more than PH6.
In Uganda smallholders are defined as those cultivating 8 acres or less of land. Uganda’s Smallholders were estimated to be around 50,000 occupying approximately 12,000Ha and producing around 28 percent of total tea production (Kiwanuka and Ahmed, 2012)
Historically, Uganda’s small holders were organized in four groups with each group owning one factory in Igara, Kayonza, Mpanga and Buhungu. By 2002 groups had grown to 26 associations. The groups were organized around the existing 26 factories in and around western Uganda. Today, the factories are now 32 in number. Bushenyi district has the highest number of households growing about 56 percent of total tea production in Uganda followed by kyenjojo. Both districts are located in the Western part of the country Tea export performance however in the last three years tea growing has almost doubled in the areas of Kigezi.
After Kenya (Kenya is the world’s leading exporter of tea) and Malawi, Uganda is the third largest exporter of tea in Africa. Uganda’s exports, both in value and volume, continue to maintain an upward trend.
Pricing of tea Unlike coffee, there is sold through auction and private deals. In the auction, tea prices are determined by supply and demand, quality and geographical location-highland tea fetch more prices (MAAIF, 2012). Consequently, there is no single price for tea. Every auction determines its own price through a reserve price and a bidding process which varies with quality and quantity.
We must continue to view the processing; Uganda produces mainly black tea processed by smallholder-managed Cut Tear and Curl (CTC) factories. According to NPA (2007) CTC factories are preferred because they guarantee maximum cuppage per unit weight of tea. By 1968, Uganda had four CTC factories established through the Government of Uganda aided small holder scheme projects. After the liberalization of the sector in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, Uganda built and rehabilitated a total of 28 factories to handle the expanded tea capacity.
Unlike Kenya, Ugandan tea processing facilities are either unevenly distributed, or are concentrated in one area with many of the potential tea growing areas having no processing facilities. For example, while the tea growing areas of Kabale and Kisoro cover 800 acres of tea with 25 percent of the area undergoing regular plucking, there are no factories near the tea planting zones. Another example of incapacity is by Igara factory, which was designed to handle 30 tonnes of green leaf per day, but, by 2001, the factory was receiving as much as 100 tonnes for processing (MAAIF, 2012). Subsequently, the management of Igara factory had to commission another factory
at Buhweju to handle the extended capacity. But as productivity of the area continues to expand, it is evident that the processing facility will be overwhelmed in the near future. In 2005, MAAIF proposed that Uganda should adopt Kenya’s processing model, where for every 500 Ha of tea, with 1.5 tonnes/Ha productivity, there should exist a single line CTC factory with a capacity to wither and process 750 tonnes of black tea or 3,500 tonnes of green leaf and with an average out-turn of 23.5 percent.
Also, Uganda should explore avenues of growing and processing green tea which is healthier and therefore better priced. Thus, Uganda should look beyond business as usual, or even beyond the. We cant do business as usual we need to look at this business and see what we can have. Do we need to expand it and if yes what are the consequences I will help with what I know. Here I start a journey for the next two months.