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Farmers Ask Government to Regulate Tea Industry

Onesmus Matsiko, the chairperson of the tea farmers’ association noted that a 30 percent subsidy on fertilizers like in other countries would cost the government 8 Billion Shillings per year to boost the tea sub-sector.
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Farmers have asked the government to expeditiously enact policies to regulate the tea industry.

Under their umbrella body, the Uganda Tea Out Growers Association – UTOA, the farmers said that there is an urgent need for rules to govern tea growing.   The farmers who form 70 percent of the tea growers in the country also asked the government to enable tea farmers to access fertilizers at subsidized prices.     

There is no policy regulating the tea, which has given rise to a number of bad practices like selling poor quality tea, under paying of smallholder farmers and poor working conditions in factories among others.

Onesmus Matsiko, the chairperson of the tea farmers’ association noted that a 30 percent subsidy on fertilizers like in other countries would cost the government 8 Billion Shillings per year to boost the tea sub-sector.  

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According to Matsiko the vision for the out-growers is to boost income from their gardens by way of collective efforts to advocate for better prices and increased production of quality tea.   He says that the practice of tea factories representing tea farmers’ interests is wrong because many are left out despite their contribution to the sector.

Matsiko was speaking on Thursday at the general assembly of tea farmers under UTOA from 26 tea growing districts from across the country held in Mubende.

Grace Kasigati, the National Agriculture Advisory Services – Naads Business Development Officer revealed that the government has supported the tea sector by providing tea seedlings from 2008 to date where 563 million seedlings worth 225 Billion Shillings have been given out to farmers.  

Kasigati says that tea production has increased from 58,000 metric tones to 121,000 metric tons which has contributed to the household income of farmers.   She said that farmers forming the association, would improve the conduct of their business as far as promoting and developing the tea value chain is concerned.  

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Kasigati said that currently, the government through the Agriculture Ministry is finalizing the tea policy that comes in handy to promote the value chain.   She also revealed that the ministry has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with UAE-based Agro-Elite Company to support value addition by way of setting up more factories in the country.