Since 2010, expansion of tea activities increased as part of the Presidents Poverty Eradication Campaign, and this led to the development of the tea strategy to expand tea production, processing and marketing within the old and new growing areas through the provision of tea seedlings and advisory services.
To effectively promote the production of the crop in the country, in 2014/15 financial year government handed the task of providing tea seedlings to NAADS. That is when NAADs started buying and distributing tea seedlings to farmers covering 17 tea-growing districts. From 2015 to date, NAADS has distributed close to 500 million tea seedlings to farmers.
Most of the tea-growing districts are in South Western Uganda (Greater Ankole and Greater Kigezi Sub-regions), a few in western Uganda (Kyenjojo and Kabarole), Mityana in central Uganda and Zombo in northern Uganda.
Tea is one of the priority cash crop commodities that was introduced in Uganda by the British in the early 1900. Tea is an important crop commodity in 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.
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 southwestern Uganda. Recently, tea growing has expanded to new Districts like Kabale, Kisoro, Rubanda, Rukungiri, Sheema, Nebbi, Zombo, Isingiro, Ntungamo, Mitooma, Rubirizi, Kamwenge, and Mbarara.
Importance of Tea in Uganda
- Tea is the third agricultural foreign exchange earner after coffee and fish.
- In 2015, it contributed US Dollars 89.95 million from the export of 58,000 MT.
- 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.
- The area under tea production is estimated to be 41,152 hectares in 2015 producing 66,000 MT of made tea.
- Tea estates produce 54% of the tea while the smallholder tea growers contribute 46% of the total acreage.
Tea Expansion Initiatives in Uganda
- The tea expansion initiative in the new areas of Kigezi, Ankole, and West Nile regions was triggered by His Excellency the President’s Poverty Eradication campaigns in 2008.
- During these campaigns, His Excellency the President made several pledges to avail tea plantlets to Kayonza tea factory, Kinkiizi Development Company in Kanungu, Kyenjojo, Kisoro, and Kabale local Governments.
- The other was the Alur Chiefdom Community of Nebbi and Zombo Districts. The total pledge would cover about 14,100 hectares of new tea plantations.
- In order to fulfill his pledges on tea, His Excellency the President directed the Hon. Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries to act.
- Consequently, a Tea Industry Expansion Strategy (2011-2015) was developed by the Department of Crop Production of MAAIF.
- The areas targeted were the old tea-producing districts of Mukono/Buikwe, Mubende, Mityana, Masaka, Kyenjojo, Hoima, Kabarole, Bushenyi, Buhweju, and Kanungu and the new tea growing areas in the districts of Kabale, Kisoro, Nebbi, Zombo, Isingiro, Ntungamo, Mitooma, Rubirizi, Sheema and Rwampara in Mbarara.
- The immediate objective and target were to provide about 84 million tea seedlings within five years from FY 2011/12-2015/16, in the tea-growing districts in fulfillment of His Excellency the President’s pledges.
- The tea expansion strategy was implemented to a larger extent. Tea seedlings were delivered to the Kigezi sub-region and tea factory construction initiated in Kabale and Kisoro.
- The introduction of tea growing in Nebbi and Zombo was also initiated. Over the years, implementation of the strategy has been modified in various planning circles (DSIP 2010/2011-2014/2015 and ASSP 2015/20162019/2020).
- The implementation of the strategy, specifically seedlings procurement and distribution, has been done through NAADS Secretariat.