Zombo – For just less than a year – Zombo district in West Nile, sub-region has become a centre of focus in as far as tea development and value addition are concerned.
Zombo, known as Okoro County before being given a district status out of Nebbi in 2010, relies majorly on agriculture and is refereed as “the food basket of West Nile region”. This is due to its fertile soils.
“Zombo is endowed with stunning landscapes,” writes Milton Emmy Akwam – a journalist who has visited the district and the sub-region on ‘many’ occasions.
Another attractive site, according to this writer – is the burial grounds of the Alur Cultural Institution situated at Atiak sub-county.
With a projected population of 266,200 by 2018 out of which 51.8% are female, agriculture is their main economic activity.
One of the main and by far, now cherished enterprises is tea. Tea farming in the region [sub-region] has been revived by an expert–Mr Edwin Atukunda Beekunda – the director of The Edwin Foundation Tea Initiative popularly known as [EFOTI Ltd].
Mr Atukunda – through EFOTI Limited has brought hopes to tea farming group, leaders and government alike.
His contributions in transforming hitherto “failing” tea estates, enhancing the capacities of tea farmers, value addition and general tea management have been applauded by many stakeholders.
Speaking to tea stakeholders in one of the tea estates in Zeu sub-county late last year, Mr Ali Lule who’s the NAADS’ coordinator for Northern Uganda said “there were no blocks here, but now we can see tea. All these teas were not there but now for me I’m seeing progress.”
He also says the language he has been dealing with is “blocks for tea”, adding that there is a bigger hope for everybody because “we are now seeing tea”.
“Zombo is moving forward even leading all others the way we want – especially in tea. There’s a lot of hope so we think we just need to encourage others,” Mr Lule added.
According to Lule, they have been moving to other places – “the tea is there, but it’s not clean as this. So, we also just need to encourage them, to show them – especially you [The Prime Minister – he meant the Alur Kingdom Premier] your voice is high – is big and in our King, please you help us; even if it’s talk, talk to them [tea farmers]. That’s enough for them, they will understand.”
He added: “You see, tea is a beauty. In Kabarole we have been having tourists just coming to see tea. Here, am seeing many dollars coming, they are coming; our people are getting rich and we are going to get happy all of us.”
To Mr Atukunda – a man with over 25 years of experience in general tea management, his presence in Zombo and northern Uganda in general is to show everyone “tea can make them richer”.
The EFOTI Ltd director tells TND News that besides some challenges, at least capacities of tea farmers have been enhanced, tea gardens reorganised and now green leaves are in abundance.
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 been selected 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 added.
The Alur Kingdom Prime Minister – who is also the Kingdom’s head of business, Rt. Hon. Vincent Ochaya told tea stakeholders last year in December that, “I’m now beginning to have “some small smiling faces” because the “journey has been a tough one”.
“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 added.
“As we move along, let us also see opportunities if you can be supported in your various districts,” the Alur Kingdom Prime Minister told leaders of West Nile sub-region ahead of their WENDA general meeting a day after in Paidha Town Council.