The Ministry of Agriculture has been asked to promote tea farming if the government expects to earn more cash returns similar to the situation in neighbouring Kenya.
Dr. Ezra Munyambonera, a senior research fellow at EPRC presented the analysis during the 3rd National Forum on Agriculture and Food Security in Kampala last week.
“Kenya is doing well, because the government has considered tea as one of its leading beverage crops. That is why they established the Kenya Tea Board whose responsibility is to promote tea production in the country. Let Uganda adopt the same strategy. This can help the country to increase tea production in the next 10 years,” he said.
An analysis of Uganda’s tea sector shows that tea production has stagnated since 1972 with the country producing between 30,000 to 50,000 metric tonnes of tea.
Experts at the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) say the disparity is due to lack of technology and failure by government to put in place a standalone tea policy or a regulatory authority.
The government has been doing this for other crops like coffee and cotton.
Experts say the country has the potential to increase tea production if it utilizes the 200,000 hectares available for tea planting and also carryout active research on tea and improve funding among other concerns.
The setting up of the tea board in Kenya has helped the country to carry out more research about the tea sector and also monitor the standards of the products.
These measures have made it easier for Kenya to compete with developed countries on the international market.
The coming up with statutory body responsible for tea growing in Kenya it has strengthen tea growing.
Farmers formed the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) which is helping them with farming inputs.
KTDA is a farmer owned organisation currently managing 63 tea factory companies.
KTDA assists smallholder tea farmers in the provision of agronomic and other technical services in farming, processing and marketing of tea.
KTDA also provides financial services and credit to farmers in form of inputs.
This has helped tea farmers in Kenya to constantly produce tea. Kenya also has g niche in the international branded market.
Source : East African Business Week