Gulu – 19 November 2020: Leaders in Gulu district and city respectively have sanctioned tea project. The endorsement empowers the Edwin Foundation Tea Initiative (EFOTI), a private company that deals in tea and fruits nursery bed establishment and management, tea estate management, research, among others.
With its first tea and fruits nursery beds and mother garden established at Lugore government prison farm, EFOTI trained at least fifty inmates and prison staff on how to create and manage a nursery bed.
Targeting northern Uganda like western Uganda’s districts of Kamwenge and Kabarole where tea has become a main cash crop, Zombo and Gulu districts have embraced tea project, with the former district currently at nearly 60 percent in terms of farmers’ commitment, and numbers of active tea farmers involved.
On 16 November 2020, Mr Okaka Geoffrey, the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Gulu district local government handed a letter to EFOTI director, Mr Edwin Atukunda Beekunda.
Under the title “Recommendation for the Edwin Foundation Tea Initiative Ltd (EFOTI)”, the CAO was introducing the tea company to prospective tea farmers in the district.
“EFOTI Ltd majorly specialises in promoting tea growing, research, dissemination of knowledge on tea growing technologies, value addition that meet local and international standards through training best tea practices as well as skill development of agricultural development and creating opportunities for sustainable livelihood for youth and women using agriculture,” part of his letter reads.
“The purpose of this letter is to introduce to you Mr Edwin Atukunda Beekunda the Director of the above company and his staff, coordinators to carry out the above activities in the district,” he added.
In August 2018, EFOTI and Rwebitaba Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute (RweZARDI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to, among others: Collaboratively establish mother gardens at Rwebitaba and in other tea growing districts especially where access to quality planting materials of good tea varieties is a big challenge.
Two, collaboratively work on tea nursery establishment and management and multiply specialty teas (purple and China). Another one was building capacity of tea nursery operators, especially in places where tea growing has been started in recent years.
Another important agreement was to introduce and expand tea growing in new places which are deemed suitable for tea, among others.
The EFOTI director, and a tea expert with over 30 years of experience, Mr Edwin Atukunda Beekunda told TND News on Thursday that farmers from Acholi sub-region have welcomed the tea project, adding that many are now registering to start planting tea.
“As of today (Thursday), 70 have registered to start tea planting. There are from districts of Amuru, Nwoya and Gulu,” he revealed.
According to the EFOTI director, registration of more farmers are ongoing, extending an invitation to other districts like Pader, Kitgum, Lamwo and others to join their colleagues.
“Each district has shown interest to plant over 2000 acres, which is enough for a factory,” he added.