Rwanda’s determination to ensure quality and promote value-addition in the tea sector is driven by the need to improve exports and ensure sustainable development, Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Dr Geraldine Mukeshimana, has said.
The minister was meeting a delegation of Ugandan Members of Parliament who paid her a courtesy call on Tuesday. The MPs on the parliamentary committee on tourism, trade, industry and co-operatives were on a four-day visit to learn best practices that can help boost tea quality in the neighbouring country, as well as work on mechanisms to enhance tea production in the two countries.
Addressing the MPs at her office, Mukeshimana observed that sharing knowledge, expertise and experiences could help strengthen tea value chain in both countries. She said Rwanda’s tea is competitive on the global market, thanks to efforts by both public and private actors and other stakeholders to promote quality along the tea value chain.
Alex Ruhunda, the head of the Ugandan delegation, said they wanted to learn from Rwanda’s experience, especially how the country ensures quality along the tea value chain. “We visited the Mombasa tea auction recently and discovered that Rwanda’s tea was at about $4 per kilogramme, while that from Uganda cost $1.6 per kilo. That’s why we decided to come and learn how you (Rwanda) produce high quality tea,” he said.
Speaking at the event, Amb George William Kayonga, the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) chief executive officer, said constant inspection and monitoring are key to ensure tea producers observe the minimum quality standards. He added that most of Rwanda’s tea is certified by ISO, or has rainforest alliance and fair trade standard marks.
Rwanda produced over 108.3 million kilogrammes of tea in 2016, up from 106.4 million kilos the previous year. However, the sector’s export receipts dropped to $63.42 million, down from $72.86 million in 2015. The tea sector employs about 46,132 farmers.