Rwanda projects to generate $102 million (about Rwf93 billion) from tea exports in the 2019/2020 financial year, up from $83 million it earned in the year before.
The National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) said that in order to generate such revenues, the country expects to export 34,000 tonnes of processed tea, above the 30,000 tonnes that were exported last year.
The disclosure was made by Issa Nkurunziza, Traditional Commodities Division Manager at NAEB, on Thursday during the launch of Season 2020 A for tea.
Nkurunziza said more than 88,000 tea seedlings were prepared for planting in this season in order to offset a gap of 60 hectares that were not planted in Nyaruguru District.
“We are targeting to use about 11,000 tonnes of fertilisers in tea plantations countrywide,” Nkurunziza said while referring to the approaches being adopted to boost production.
Tea is grown on about 5,000 hectares in Nyaruguru District, making it one of the biggest source of livelihood for many people, François Habitegeko, the Nyaruguru District Mayor.
In the 2018/2019 fiscal year, the total area under tea plantation in the country was 27,100 hectares, NAEB said.
“We have put more focus on this crop. We will continue to expand its acreage for larger harvests,” Habitegeko said.
With fluctuating commodity prices on the international market, the prospects of Rwanda attaining its revenue target are still uncertain.
NAEB says it is responding to the challenges by increasing the quantity and quality of tea that is produced in the country.
Gérardine Mukeshimana, the Minister for Agriculture, said the fortunes of the country’s tea sector have been rising, partly driven by four factories including Nyabihu factory which this week sold a record $7.22 (Rwf6,624.89) per kilogramme at the Mombasa Tea Auction market.
However, farmers still complain about low prices.
Currently, farmers earn around Rwf200 per kilogramme of tea leaves.
Farmers from COOTHEMUKI – a cooperative of tea farmers based in Muganza and Kivu sectors of Nyaruguru – say their earnings are way too low than that.
“For us to get higher yields, we need to get timely access to fertilisers,” said Triphonia Ntamwera, one of the farmers.
The Minister promised government support to enable the farmers in this cooperative to register higher yields.
“We are trying to provide support to farmers to increase yields,” the Minister said.
Rwanda has 42,000 tea farmers.
In the last fiscal year, 96 per cent of Rwanda’s exports were shipped to 13 countries.
Pakistan, UK and Kazakhstan were the biggest markets for Rwanda’s tea, accounting for 49 per cent, 15 per cent and 7 per cent respectively for the crop’s exports.
Other markets include Sudan, Egypt and Ireland.
Overall, NAEB said, Rwanda tea was shipped to forty-two countries, with new export destinations such as France, South Africa and Singapore.