Government asked to massively fund tea project in northern Uganda

Tea farmers getting training in Minister's estate. Inset (in yellow) in Minister Grace Kwiyucwiny.

Agriculture sector grew by 4.2 percent, up from 3.8 percent in the previous four years – Finance Minister, Hon. Matia Kasaija.

Lira—11, September 2020: The government of Uganda has been urged to massively fund tea project in northern Uganda.

The 2020/2021 financial year budget stands at Uganda shillings 45 trillion and the budget will be implemented under the theme: ‘Stimulating the Economy to Safeguard Livelihoods, Jobs, Businesses and Industrial Recovery’.

Of the shillings 45 trillion, agriculture was allocated shillings 1.3 trillion. Shillings 171.8 billion was allocated to trade and industry sector, among others.

Over the past decades, agriculture which is the country’s backbone has had low budget allocation, according to some activists, and senior politicians.

In expressing their dissatisfaction, some sued government for breaching the Maputo Protocol, and the case is yet to be concluded in Court.

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And with shs1.3 trillion in place, agricultural expert now wants government to consider massively funding tea sub-sector in order to support the economy.

Mr Edwin Atukunda Beekunda, an agriculturist with expertise in tea sub-sector, has come out to appeal to government to do a lot for tea project in northern Uganda.

Through his foundation, The Edwin Foundation Tea Initiative (EFOTI LTD), Mr Atukunda has revamped many tea estates in West Nile, and trained over 500 tea farmers including different stakeholders.

Besides training them, he has also established many tea nursery beds in Gulu (Lugore prisons) and Zombo districts to help farmers by planting quality and high yielding tea plantlets.

“Too much tea in the gardens, more to be ready next month, more farmers are coming on board,” Mr Atukunda told TND News.

The EFOTI Limited COVID-19 message to Ugandan tea [farmers].

“Uganda Development Corporation (UDC), National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) should save us from this situation otherwise we are now blamed for training farmers the best farming practices that have increased production without addressing the issue of markets,” he added.

Government, through its different agencies, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Uganda Development Corporation, NAADS have all pledged to establish a tea withering facility in Zombo district. This pledge is yet to take off.    

While reading the national budget for 2020/2021 in June this year, Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija said agriculture sector grew by 4.2 percent, up from 3.8 percent in the previous four years.

“Medium-term outlook for economic growth is positive and will be stronger given measures in the budget,” he added.

He also informed the country that primary production of commodities increased significantly.

For example, Coffee production increased from 5.7 million 60-kg bags to 7 million bags between 2017 and 2019, and Fish catches grew from 391,000 metric tonnes to 561,000 metric tonnes between 2017 and 2019.

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