- Mr Awacnedi Fred Mazunga – the chairperson of Abanga Active Tea Farmers Unity SACCO Ltd tells TND News on Monday that there are now 129 members, all of whom are tea farmers.
Tea farmers in Zombo, Zeu sub-county are now united and hopeful under their newly formed SACCO. According to Awacnedi Fred, the group is now six weeks old with members contributing and saving close to Uganda shilling 1.2 million.
“The unity of the members is very strong,” he said. Out of the 129 members, he said others are yet to contribute and save for their membership.
He added that only 60 people have so far saved with the group, noting that scarcity of money at this time is the reason other members are yet to save.
Asked about the minimum one can save, Mr Mazunga says from as little as shilling 1000 and above, adding further that, “Our local farmers cannot have shillings 10,000 or more at this time.”
“According to what we have seen for these six weeks, it has really improved the lives of our people not only economically, but also the level of our unity. People from every village are coming to save, contrary to when we started and people were still reluctant to save,” he explained how the SACCO is changing them.
Even when they have not got external assistance, the SACCO chair said the saving of shilling 1.2 million can be borrowed by tea farmers. The security to borrow the loan, he says, will be the tea plantation a borrower has.
This loan, he added, will help borrowers, who are tea farmers, to buy herbicides to clean their gardens, describing it “a hope that farmers will improve”.
He also noted that they urgently need capacity building, calling on the government to “help us” and to “give them a factory”.
EFOTI Limited intervention in Zombo
With its own resources, The Edwin Foundation Tea Initiative, commonly known as EFOTI Limited, has intervened in Zombo district by bringing more than 500 tea farmers together.
EFOTI Limited has also enhanced the capacity of some tea farmers; training them on tea nursery bed management, estate management, value addition, planting and weeding, application of fertilizers, among others.
Mr Edwin Atukunda Beekunda who is the EFOTI Limited director, and a tea expert with over 30 years of experience, says: “The SACCO is open for all people who are growing tea and those who believe in tea.”
He added that this is the time government should embrace tea farming in northern Uganda by offering its utmost support to the famers.
“That’s why NAADs should not wait for the end of coronavirus. People should think beyond,” he says.
The tea expert added that up to now, some people think tea can’t do well in the greater north.