29 Jun

This was announced in Dodoma last week by the deputy minister for Agriculture Hussein Bashe during his meeting with the private sector stakeholders. "The process will be fast-tracked", he said, noting that tea auctions will go hand in hand with construction of the laboratories and storage facilities. 

The planned facility and other measures being taken will motivate smallholder tea growers in improving productivity, he said. Its construction and subsequent launch, he added, would cut down the cost of transporting fresh tea from Tanzania to an auction in Mombasa, Kenya. Mr. Bashe said besides reducing the transport costs,a tea auction within the country would enable Tanzania to have a say on tea price in the world market. "With our laboratories, we will also be assured of the quality of our products in the global market. 

"Now we have little control on the grading of our tea leaves because that is done by the auctions outside the country", he said. Ms Angela Ngalula, the chairperson of Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) said the body fully supports the government in the initiative. "We are ready to buy the laboratory equipment. That would improve the grading of our tea", she pointed out. The meeting was attended by, among others, the chief executive of Tanzania Mercantile Exchange (TMX) Godfrey Malekano. Others are director general of Tanzania Tea Board (TTB),Nicholas Mahuya and his counterpart from the Smallholder Tea Growers Association Theopold Ndunguru. 

Also present were the managing director of Tea Research Institute of Tanzania (TRIT) Dr. Emanuel Simbua and the CEO of AGRI-CONNECT Mr. Colin Scott. TBT boss said the new tea auction will be managed by TMX via an online system, whereby buyers from all over the world will be able to participate. He added that the government decided to open the auction in Dar es Salaam in order to stimulate economic growth and empower smallholder tea growers. Statistics from the board indicate that Tanzania sold through the Mombasa auction an estimated 5,000 to 8,000 tonnes of tea per year. 

Currently more than 32,000 smallholders’ farmers are engaged in the sub-sector whereby on average 40,000 to 60,000 people are employed in farms and factories. However, there are over two million people being farmers, processors, exporters and researchers who are engaged in the tea value chain. Recently the minister for Agriculture Prof. Adolf Mkenda said the government was reaching out to the banks for capital to revamp tea production in the country. He admitted that production of tea has not been maximized, attributing this to poor capital among the growers and inadequate supply of inputs. 

Currently tea is commercially grown in 12 districts in six regions. Total area under cultivation is 22,721 hectares, of which 11,272 ha belong to the large farmers and 11,449 ha to the smallholders. Prof Mkenda said the government strategy would primarily focus on smallholder tea growers who lacked capital to improve their production. 

According to TTB,Tanzania expects tea production to rise by over 40 percent to 40,000 tonnes in the 2020/2021 season. This would be an increase of 12,000 tonnes from 28,000 tonnes produced in the 2019/2020 season. The country targets to harvest 60,000 tonnes of tea by 2024/2025. 

Source: Habari Tanzania