In a bid to enhance the quality of tea exports to international standards, tea farmers yesterday started a three-day training workshop in food safety management systems, which is part of ISO 22,000 certification along the entire tea value chain.
ISO 22,000 is a new international standard of quality tea. Currently, only three out of 11 tea estates meet this food safety standard in the country.
The training is organised by East African Tea Trade Association (EATTA), in collaboration with Rwanda National Agricultural and Export Promotion Board (NAEB) and financed by TradeMark East Africa. The training is meant to provide practical knowledge and skills on the food safety management system as well as the principles, processes and techniques used for the analysis and management of food safety hazards.
“This training will enhance export competitiveness of the Rwandan tea to the region and international markets through export of higher quality tea that meets the taste and minimum food safety requirements of consumers,” John Bosco Kalisa, NAEB officer in charge of Private Sector and Civil Society Organisations said.
“Production of higher quality tea will in turn secure higher margins for both tea producers, both small-scale growers as well as the tea estates,” Kalisa added.
The workshop brings together 30 key actors along the tea production chain including tea traders, processors, engineers, accountants and human resource managers from eight major tea processing companies in Rwanda.
The eight major tea companies are Sorwathe, Nyabihu, Pfundaand Rubaya. Others are Shagasha, Mulindi, Nshili Kivu and Gisakura.
The training is expected to improve the export competitiveness in the region through reducing the barriers that impede free flow of goods and services within the region and promote the private sector and civil society to effectively influence policies and practices for growth in trade.
“We are trying to upgrade the skills of our tea exporters to comply with the new requirements. It has to be known and applied by all actors along the tea value chain,” Kalisa noted