Zombo – Tea growing in northern Uganda, especially Zombo district is a reality. These were unanimous statements from each of the leaders who spoke when they visited a tea estate belonging to the Northern Uganda State Minister – also the Zombo district Women MP, Hon. Grace Kwiyucwiny on Thursday.
The leaders, key among them Rt. Hon. Vincent Ochaya, The Prime Minister for Alur Kingdom, Zombo, Koboko, Nebbi, Maracha LC 5 chairpersons together with their councillors, Nebbi Municipal Mayor, RDCs from West Nile sub-region, officials from Operation Wealth Creation [NAADS] Secretariat in Kampala, among others were excited about how tea has picked up in West Nile.
With expertise from The Edwin Foundation Tea Initiative (EFOTI Ltd), tea earlier planted and were fading – because of poor management, among other things, have been saved, and now freshly looking.
To the excitement of different tea stakeholders in the sub-region, they have all agreed to rally behind EFOTI Ltd to ensure tea which to others, out of ignorance and bad media reporting “is not there in Zombo”, becomes “West Nile’s pride”.
Aneniwu Patrick, the District Agricultural Officer for Zombo district, while welcoming at least 100 hundreds ‘tea stakeholders’ to tea plantation on block ‘A’ for State Minister for Northern Uganda also the Zombo district Woman MP, Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny, says: “…you are aware that tea had a lot of challenge and indeed the challenge still continues as you can see down there is a small holder farmer who is failing to manage and the tea is surviving..”
He added: “We were pleased to have somebody with knowledge in the management of garden in EFOTI Ltd who was identified by the minister to come and work on her garden. I saw the work he did in the garden and i feel all of us together should come together and join hands in the Edwin Foundation Tea Initiative [EFOTI Ltd] so that we can be able to change the status quo of the tea management.”
According to Mr Aneniwu, the district’s focus is to ensure value addition component in some of the enterprise like tea is maintained.
Also, Birombo John Orwiny, the LC5 Chairperson for Zombo district asked all leaders in West Nile to preach about tea in the sub-region, urging media in the sub-region to report the truth and always pay visit to Zombo.
“Tea is there. Tea situation is real and now taking off. You are aware recently the district has labelled to host the industrial hub for West Nile and this is the place we anticipate much to be done on tea and more are yet to be done. Although we see others failing, that is a reason why we need you to come in so that we work together,” Mr. Birombo says.
Welcoming leaders to Alur land, the Alur Kingdom Prime Minister – who is also the Kingdom’s head of business, Rt. Hon. Vincent Ochaya told leaders that he’s now beginning to have “some small smiling faces” because the “journey has been a tough one”.
The Kingdom premier added that: “First of all, most of us tea was new to us so, we somehow lost direction there were things we didn’t take rightly as beneficiaries.”
He also reiterates tea journey has been a long one but now people are smiling.
In 2010, the Jadipu [Prime Minister in Alur language] says the King, His Royal Highness Philip Rauni III asked for tea project for his people.
“He thought this was a legacy he wanted to leave behind and for him he’s passionate about tea project and wants it succeed. That is why he has taken leadership,” he added.
“As we move along, let us also see opportunities if you can be supported in your various districts,” he tells leaders of West Nile sub-region.
In less than half a year, and not more than nine months EFOTI Ltd has existed in northern Uganda, tea farming has taken shape – tea farmers enhanced through capacity building.
Above all, Mr. Atukunda Beekunda Beekunda has move progressive steps by adding value, processing and packing maiden tea for the Kingdom – the “Zombo Royal Tea” – “the best from West Nile”.
Mr. Atukunda, who took leaders through what he’s doing – what he has done since “taking over tea project” in Zombo district, asks leaders to do something for their homes.
“Be an example – plant tea. I was once a district councillor like you and I retired honourably,” he advised.
A tea expert with more than 30 years of experience, Mr. Atukunda’s selfless efforts in trying to revive tea in the sub-region has been commended by both cultural, political and religious leaders.