The Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Hon. Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja yesterday carried out a monitoring visit to Kigezi highland tea farmers in Kisoro and Kabale Districts.
While at Bwindi Tea Estate owned by Bufumbira North Constituency MP, John Ninzeyimana Kamara, the Minister urged worried tea farmers to be patient, saying that the President has already made a directive to the Minister of Finance to effect the payment of tea growers in different parts of the Country, include those in Kisoro.
“We are in final stages and very soon you will be paid, we are also soon embarking on a country-wide registration of tea farmers. The main aim is to enable farmers produce within the available resources, farmers will not cry anymore.” The Minister said.
Recently, tea farmers from Kisoro and Kabale districts expressed their concern about delayed payment of about sh3.7b, by the Government for the 8.3 million seedlings that they supplied in March 2016.
The Minister also visited his predecessor, Hon.Tress Bucyanayandi who is also a tea farmer in Kisoro. While at his farm, the former Agriculture Minister asked government to come up a law to regulate the tea industry. He also asked government to give incentives to farmers like fertilizers in order to increase tea production.
Tea is one of the priority cash crop commodities in the Agricultural Sector Strategy Plan (ASSP of 2015/16-2019/20. It is an important crop commodity to Uganda. Close to 80,000 farming households are involved in tea production and it supports over 150,000 skilled and unskilled workers.
The most recent report produced by the NAADS secretariat indicated that tea estates produce 54% while the small holder tea growers contribute 46% of the total acreage.
Traditional tea growing districts are: Mukono, Buikwe, Mubende, Mityana, Masaka in the central region, Kyenjojo, Kibale, Hoima and Kabarole in the western region, Bushenyi, Buhweju, Kanungu and Kabale in south western Uganda.
The report indicates that tea growing has expanded to new Districts like Kabale, Kisoro, Rubanda, Rukungiri, Sheema, Nebbi, Zombo, Isingiro, Ntungamo, Mitooma, Rubirizi, Kamwenge and Mbarara. Todate Government through NAADS/OWC has supported farmers with 446 million tea seedlings worth UGX 202bn.