$2.2 million ‘flavored tea’ factory unveiled

Sorwathe, Rwanda’s first tea factory to obtain the ISO and Fairtrade Certification has unveiled a $ 2.2 million orthodox tea factory in Rulindo district.
Visitors inspecting the new processing plant in Rulindo (Photo G. Ntagungira).
Visitors inspecting the new processing plant in Rulindo (Photo G. Ntagungira).

Sorwathe, Rwanda’s first tea factory to obtain the ISO and Fairtrade Certification has unveiled a $ 2.2 million orthodox tea factory in Rulindo district.

Cally Alles, the Director General of Sorwathe said the new factory for Rwanda’s orthodox tea would cost the company $2.2 million which includes the cost of construction and the cost of the machinery.

The investment is aimed at adding value in the product.
The new tea factory has the capacity to produce 700,000 Kilograms per year of black orthodox tea and green tea.

It is set to boost the capacity of tea production at Sorwathe.

Orthodox tea is produced using rollers, with tables fitted with seasoned timber making the tea more delicate, more flavoured and less in strength compared to other teas.

”Sorwathe is the first tea industry player to manufacture orthodox tea in Rwanda.

I personally remain convinced that the introduction of orthodox tea is a great value addition to the local tea industry,” Christopher Bazivamo, Minister of Agriculture said during the unveiling of the facility.

“It is an achievement to be listed as an example of companies making good investments in the country which targets a number of interventions in rural areas.

This in turn has a potential of changing peoples lives for a better future for this country,” he added.

Calley also added that Sorwathe’s main focus has been on producing quality products which has helped the company find a ready market in almost all tea consuming countries.

“With the commissioning of the new factory, Sorwathe is hopeful to attract more buyers in local and foreign markets.

Its garden mark ‘Rukeri’ has a very good reputation of being consistent in quality and is exported to US, UK, Canada, Ireland, South Africa and Pakistan,” he said.

“Joe Wertheim, the founder of Sorwathe, in a bid to continue his legacy to the tea industry has brought in his son Andrew Wertheim, a lawyer by profession who comes into business and his contribution is expected to be invaluable in every aspect of the operations,” he added.

He added that the most popular form of value addition is selling branded tea.

This involves not only the packaging of tea but also blending of other varieties to maintain consistency of taste.

To arrive at a blend, expert tea tasters sample hundreds of liquors.

Sorwathe is the first private tea factory in Rwanda and commenced its operations in 1975. It is a leader in the tea industry.

The decision to invest in the new factory emanates from Sorwathe’s desire to diversify its product range.
The tea factory is also the first in Rwanda to be an ‘Ethical Tea Partnership’ participant.

Over the years the production of Sorwathe has increased and peaked at 3.6 million kilograms of black CTC tea in 2007. Sorwathe continues to be the largest (single factory) producer in the country and accounted for 15 percent of the total national production last year.

Twenty five percent of its green leaf is grown on its own estate and 75 percent is sourced from Assopthe, a cooperative of 4,456 smallholder tea farmers.

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