Government to open bids for Mata and Gisakura tea factories

KIGALI (Reuters) - Government is set to open bids for two factories, Mata and Gisakura according to authorities.The 1,200 hectare (2,965 acres) Mata and 1,300 hectare Gisakura estates produced about a fifth of the country’s estimated 20,300 tonne leaf crop between them last year, Butera told Reuters.
 Tea estates. (File Photo)
Tea estates. (File Photo)

KIGALI (Reuters) - Government is set to open bids for two factories, Mata and Gisakura according to authorities.
The 1,200 hectare (2,965 acres) Mata and 1,300 hectare Gisakura estates produced about a fifth of the country’s estimated 20,300 tonne leaf crop between them last year, Butera told Reuters.

“By the end of the year Rwanda Tea Authority should be (only) regulatory,” Anthony Butera, the head of the authority said.

“We had anticipated to get $54 million in the year 2009, which we haven’t achieved. We shall get about $48 million, which is OK given the (weather) conditions,” he said in an interview.

The Rwandan tea sector’s receipts rose to $48 million in 2009, up 6.7 percent from the previous year, due to high global prices and despite unfavourable weather, the Rwanda Tea Authority

Butera, said that the two tea factories that earned about $5 million each per annum would be sold in January as part of a plan to privatise all government-owned farms by the end of 2010.

Rwanda aims to achieve its goal of increasing tea production to 24,000 tonnes and revenues to $54 million in the fiscal year 2009/10 that ends in June, he said.

Tea is one of Rwanda’s main foreign exchange earners after coffee, mining, mineral re-exports, tourism and remittances.

“At the beginning of the year production was very low, mainly because of climatic issues like shortage of rain and pests,” Butera said. “On the other hand, the prices kept on doing well at the Mombasa auction.”

Rwanda’s farm sector, which represents more than a third of its economy, remains especially vulnerable to weather because of the slow uptake of agricultural technology, particularly irrigation, Butera said.

He said the country’s fertile volcanic soils will produce 35,000 tonnes of leaves a year by 2012 under government plans to expand tea cultivation to 21,000 hectares, up from 12,000 now.

The government is also looking to exploit lucrative blending and packaging processes that could increase the price of Rwandan tea to $20 per kg from the average $2.5 per kg for bulk tea currently sold at the auction in Kenya, he said.

To this end, the government had encouraged the establishment of Rwanda Tea Packers, a private company that has started to rent blending and packaging facilities in the Dubai Tea Trading Centre, Butera said.

“By the  end of the year we should move to around 400,000 kg (of such tea through Dubai),” he said.

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