Gulu—2, December 2020: Tea project have gradually started in Acholi sub-region—Northern Uganda after different stakeholders embraced it.
Unlike West Nile (Zombo district) where close to 120 acres are under expert’s management, and with a convincing progress, Gulu district or any other districts in Acholi sub-region have started the journey.
Close to 70 potential tea farmers have registered with Edwin Foundation Tea Initiative (EFOTI), with over 2000 acres now available for utilisation.
Registered farmers, according to EFOTI Director, Mr Edwin Atukunda Beekunda are from Gulu, Nwoya and Amuru. He says plans are underway to reach other districts like Kitgum, Lamwo, among others.
Whereas this is “a big achievement” in recent months, Mr Atukunda says government should now come in to support tea project in northern Uganda, through funding and supporting farmers’ groups.
Tea is the third traditional export for Uganda.
Addressing an international conference in Kampala in June 2019, Gregory Mugabe, who’s the chairperson Uganda Tea Association (UTA), said Uganda produces 80 million kilograms of tea yearly, but the market remains weak.
A country like China, it produced nearly 2.62 million metric tons of tea in 2018. This was a sharp increase from about 1.02 million metric tons produced in 2006.
Indonesia, India, China, Sri Lanka and Kenya were rated as the world’s largest tea-exporting countries.
“Tea is one of the best popular drinks in the world, second only to water.”
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According to Mr Atukunda, there is a clear sign for tea to progress in the region provided different stakeholders join hands to support the current undertakings.
EFOTI director says they are looking to supply 1,000,000 tea seedlings for the establishment of mother gardens in Acholi sub-region.
Government of Uganda, under Reconstruction and Development Program (RDP) has shown interest to develop tea value chain in West Nile and Acholi sub-regions.
The RDP projects, to focus on 36 key areas: Support to cassava production, processing and marketing, among others, will expire in 2025.
In order to make wealth creation to all achievable and sustainable, EFOTI director with more than 30 years of experience in tea, says “everybody”—citing churches, government ministries and agencies, technocrats should preach the tea gospel.
“Primarily, the president should support tea project and farmers. Being the third export crop, there is a possibility that with his support, tea can come second or even first in recent years,” he added.
Among institutions ready to promote tea project in Gulu City are Gulu University, Prime SAACO and individual farmers who have registered.