Govt to double tea production

In a bid to boost tea production in the country, the Ministry of Agriculture unveiled plans to increase tea plantations by 18,000 hectares of land at the end of 2017.
Government plans to plant tea on 18,000 new hectares of land.  The New Times/File
Government plans to plant tea on 18,000 new hectares of land. The New Times/File

In a bid to boost tea production in the country, the Ministry of Agriculture unveiled plans to increase tea plantations by 18,000 hectares of land at the end of 2017.

The target is part of National Agriculture Export Development Board (NAEB)’s second phase programme, dubbed “New tea plantations and factory construction approach (2012-2017)”.

According to available NAEB statistics, the first phase, from 2004-2012 saw 20,665 hectares of land planted with tea.

The Minister of Agriculture, Agnes Kalibata, disclosed this shortly after presenting the country’s tea production strategy by NAEB, last week.

The minister expressed optimism, saying that the target was achievable.

“We have had the plan to increase tea plantations in the country,  but the process has been slow. We have developed mechanisms to ensure  increase of tea farms by 18,000 ha within five years,” she said.

Kalibata  explained that the expansion programme 2012-2017 on existing tea farms and factories will increase the production of tea in the country which is currently at 24,000 tones annually.

Rwanda is considered one of the leading tea producers in the world.

The tea plantation expansion initiative was highlighted during the national Integrated Development

Programme (IDP) meeting that brought together senior government officials from various ministries and affiliated agencies at Prime Holdings, Kimihurura.

At the forum mayors and governors were tasked to look for possible approaches to enhance tea farming and as well boost crop intensification programmes.

According to Alex Kanyankole, the director general of NAEB, resistance of some farmers to engage in tea farming, was a still a challenge.

“The target is achievable if we work together as a team. We have mapped out the plan to increase tea production capacity,” he noted.

According to NAEB, the ongoing new tea projects in Rutsiro, Karongi, Gatare, Mushubi and Muganza-Kivu will help increase the existing plantation capacity for existing operational factories.

Paul Jabo, the executive secretary of Southern Province, said that the infrastructural development challenges like the road networks that connect tea estates  pose a threat output.

He added: “the construction of feeder roads that connect tea estates should be looked at when we commit ourselves to increase tea production in the country.”

The forum also deliberated on the relocation of people from high-risk zones, the increase of alternative energy sources, the status of Genocide survivors, and agriculture transformation.

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