Smallholder tea farmers and other residents of Nyamagabe District are upbeat following plans by Kitabi Tea Factory to expand production. The move means that residents, mainly from Kitabi, Tare and Uwinkingi sectors, can now expand their plantation as they will be assured of a ready market, officials from the firm have said.
According to Jean Mutabazi, the general manager of Kitabi Tea Factory, the firm is working with farmer co-operatives and smallholder farmers to expand the area under tea to 1,800 hectares in the medium-term.
When the expansion project is completed, the factory will be able to process about 16 million kilos of green leaf tea, producing four million kilogrammes of ‘made tea’ annually. It is also putting in place mechanisms to boost quality to become more competitive, particularly in global markets.
The firm processes two million kilos green leaf tea presently. The tea maker currently has tea plantation on 950 hectares, while smallholder tea farmers have 850 hectares under tea production.
Rwanda’s tea export receipts were at $52.8 million in the first 10 months of 2016, down from $62.2 million earned during the same period in 2015. Tea production was at 85.5 million kilos in October last year, up from nearly 85 kilos over the same period in 2015. ‘Made tea’ production decreased to 20.8 million kilos, down from 21.4 million kilos the previous year.