Zombo tea farmers have waited for far too long after the government promised them a factory.
Zombo – January 13, 2022: According to the Edwin Foundation Tea Initiative (EFOTI), their recent engagement with tea farmers show that they are demoralized. EFOTI say they also found that some farmers are committed.
After meeting tea farmers this week with an official from Equity Bank Uganda, and stakeholders in Zombo, EFOTI Director Edwin Atukunda Beekunda said farmers lack capital, they have a biased mindset due to government delay in setting up a factory.
Other challenges farmers are facing include lack of extension services, late delivery of seedlings; transportation of their green leaves to the current collection centre, among many.
“This time we also shared on the issues affecting the production and we agreed that the buying of green leaves should continue,” said Atukunda.
Other activities that will contribute to the increase of production when farmers get support are pruning, decentering; gap filling, good plucking and green leaf handling.
EFOTI management continues to appreciate farmers and West Nile leaders for trusting them since 2019.
“We have made a promise to continue supporting farmers until when they start benefiting from tea project,” added Atukunda.
The bank has also pledged to set up a virtual branch in Zombo next month, according to Ronald Mugabi, Business Growth and Development Manager.
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Atukunda has asked leaders to keep the unity and encourage farmers to expand the acreage if they are to satisfy government with a demand for a factory.
The current machines undergoing installation in Zombo can handle production for more than two years.
“I was not happy with some farmers who spend most of their time discussing people and cheap politics, I told them that for us we are interested in the kilograms delivered to us and the cleanliness of the gardens. The rest is not part of our business” the EFOTI Director said in an interview.
He added that one more piece of advice to farmers is to educate their children because the factory will require people will skills.
“Farmers should focus on good parenting if they are to enjoy their old age, I have never been convinced that you can be poor when you have land and learned children.”
Although we promote tea growing, we also advised them to grow other cash crops for food security. Eucalyptus trees are needed, fruit trees like avocado, coffee etc.