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Buhweju farmers stuck with tea after bumper harvest

Tea farm

Tea farm

Tea farmers in the Buhweju district, western Uganda are stuck with their bumper harvest due to a shortage of processing factories.

The farmers supply their produce to Igara-Buhweju tea factory, the only factory in the district. It was constructed in 2010 with the capacity to produce 100,000 kilograms every day however, the farmers are supplying much more than what the factory can process.

The affected farmers are from the sub-counties of Engaju, Nyakishana, Burere and Nyakashaka town council among others. Ian Atamba, the Buhweju district production officer, says that the farmers have been supplying the factory with 265,500 kilograms of tea every day. He adds that in the current season, only 150,000 kilograms of tea is taken by the factory - leaving a deficit of 110,000 kilograms of tea.  

According to Atamba, the district needs at least four factories that will process the green tea supplied by local farmers. Sebastian Byabashaija, the agricultural officer of Nyakashaka town council, says that the farmers' produce has been left to waste at the collection centres.

Moses Tumusiime, chairperson of Nyakarambi collecting centre and a tea farmer says that they have lost a lot of money because their tea is left to dry at the centres.  

Tumusiime says that district leaders should lobby for more tea factories. Beatrice Tumwebaze, another farmer says that she is frustrated because she purchased inputs such as pesticides, fertilizers to improve the quality of her produce, but she has nowhere to sell it. Tumusiime says that she is stuck with over 200 kilograms of tea.

Arthur Babu, a tea farmer attributed the bumper tea harvests to the current rains and the fertilizers that the farmers applied during the dry season. Deo Atuhaire, the Buhweju LC V chairperson says that they have written to the ministry of Agriculture about the shortage of tea factories in the district.  

Atuhaire says that they supplied over 35 million tea seedlings last season and there are plans to supply an additional 47 million seeds. Julius Amutuhaire, the chairperson of the factory, says that they limited the quantity of green leaf because the farmers were supplying much more than the factory could process. He attributed the low production to the unstable electricity supply.

Comments

0 #1 Uhuru 2021-10-25 23:48
This is disappointing! Our farmers are losing a lot. A few years ago; our maize farmers had to leave maize to rot in the garden due to lack of market.

Then pineapple farmers in Luwero suffered a similar fate. Then orange growers in Eastern Uganda. Now the tea growers! We need a clear strategy to support our farmers.
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