Tea: EFOTI director grateful for overwhelming support in Northern Uganda

Officials from NUSAF, Zombo DLG and EFOTI director pose for a group photo after their visits to a tea garden in 2019. Courtesy/File photo.

“We thank all stakeholders. Uganda Development Corporation (UDC) should come down and do something. Farmers have been patient enough,” Mr Edwin Atukunda Beekunda, EFOTI director.

 Zombo – 19, March 2021: The Edwin Foundation Tea Initiative (EFOTI) is optimistic Northern Uganda will be “a tea hub” in the next three years due to the overwhelming support from some government agencies and institutions, (tea) farmers and leaders at all levels.

EFOTI has for the last four years of existence in the region mobilized and trained tea farmers; enhanced their capacity, moving on to raise hundreds of thousands of tea seedlings, among other activities.

In Zeu sub-county, Zombo district, it has “saved over 200 acres” of tea gardens that was intentionally abandoned by disgruntled tea farmers who said they were lacking “better tea management” and “technical support” from government.

“When I look at the journey we have moved from the day I met Hon Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny (State Minister for Northern Uganda) in Acholi and she officially introduced me to the President, then she requested me give some time to Zombo tea famers which I did. I was so happy yesterday (Thursday, 18 March 2021) when the leadership of Zombo district and the farmers recommended our services for any support to make sure that we continue the good work in Zombo and Northern Uganda at large,” Mr Edwin Atukunda Beekunda, the EFOTI director told TND News on Friday.

“Surely people didn’t let me down. We thank God. If all agencies can do the same then we shall develop Northern region not forgetting that this is the President’s initiative to eradicate poverty in Uganda,” he added.

Mr Atukunda appreciated NUSAF’s intervention and a meeting held on Thursday in Zombo, and thanked farmers for their commitments. “Continuous tea supply by NAADS/OWC, special support to EFOTI to continue; district production department to continue their good work of sensitizing and mobilizing farmers and cooperatives and farmer groups should encourage their members to plant more tea for the imminent factory.”

He says “EFOTI is just here to build capacity of famers and adding value on Zombo tea”, adding that “when government has constructed the factory EFOTI will move to other areas where there’s need”.

“We thank all stakeholders. Uganda Development Corporation (UDC) should come down and do something. Farmers have been patient enough,” Mr Atukunda, with over three decades in tea project added.

Minister Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny (3rd from left) with officials from Zombo and NUSAF pay attention as EFOTI director Mr Edwin Atukunda takes them through ‘tea management’ on Thursday.

He also says farmers need knowledge and the factory being constructed will serve best only if the current tea projects are rescued. “Supply of seedlings alone will not take us any where that’s why it has been failing for this entire long,” tea expert says.

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