Tea Farmers Demand Soft Loans to Buy Irrigation Facilities

1770 Views Fort Portal, Uganda

In short
Some of the green leaf from the farmers has been rejected by the factories because they are of fibrous quality instead of the soft ones.

Tea farmers in Kyenjojo district want government to provide them with soft loans to invest in irrigation facilities. The farmers argue that investing in irrigation facilities will help them minimize losses caused by the dry spell.
Kyenjojo and Kabarole districts are known for high tea production, with numerous factories scattered in both districts. The factories produce tea for local consumption and export.

However in the past three months, the farmers have experienced low quality and quantity of green leaf due to the bad weather. Some of the green leaf has been rejected by the factories because they are of fibrous quality instead of the soft ones.
Betty Namara, a farmer in Kyarusozi Sub County says she expected to harvest 60 sacks of tea but only got ten because of the bad weather. She calls on government to sensitize farmers through technical people on how they can carry out irrigation and help the farmers acquire soft loans to purchase irrigation equipment.
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Namara currently uses a small irrigation machine to water her tea plantation. She however says this is not enough, adding that people like her could work better if availed financing  to  build better irrigation facilities.
Benon Asiimwe, another tea farmer says his tea is usually of poor quality especially during the dry spell because he does not own  even the basic irrigation facility.

Some of the factories have not been spared. Fred Mugisa, the operations Manager at Mabale tea factory says they have experienced a drop in green leaf volumes from 55,000 kilograms in November to 20,000 kilograms since since December last year.

Mugisa explains that the volume has dropped a day and has also had an impact on the quality of green leaf which is exported to countries like U.K, China and Pakistan. Mugisa adds that irrigation is the only option.

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Tea growers have in the past asked the government to invest more resources into researching high yielding and drought resistant varieties to boost tea production in the country. They argue that their performance is limited because of the failure by government to establish research facilities to help identify better crop variety.
Tea is one of the traditional cash crops and a major foreign exchange earner for Uganda. 
According to the Uganda Tea Association, tea production in 2015, reduced by 5.4 percent to 56 million kilograms compared to the previous year, due to effects of climate change.


About the author

Emmanuel Kajubu
Emmanuel Kajubu is proud to have been the first Ugandan journalist to write in depth pieces about the Tooro Kingdom institution. His knowledge of the inner workings of the Tooro Kingdom is what made him privy to the splits in the royal family. These splits almost challenged Tooro Omukama Oyo Nyimba Iguru's reign.

Culture, agriculture and the environment are just two areas of many of interest to Kajubu. As long as he has held a pen, Kajubu has also written about public policy, health and crime.

Kajubu is keen on impacting his society not just as a writer but also a trainer and mentor. Bundibugyo and Ntoroko districts fall under his docket. Kajubu has been a URN staff member since 2008.