Zombo Tea Farmers’ Cooperative Society holds AGM with optimism factory will come soon
Last Updated on: 2nd April 2022, 02:29 pm
By December 2023, the vice-chairman of the cooperative says they expect the factory to be running.
What you have to know:
- Tea was introduced in Zombo in 1968 but was abandoned in the 1970s due to the political turmoil across the country.
- Currently, the major tea clones propagated in the area are 303/577 and 6/8, with one pest identified (the valiatted grasshoppers).
- A capex budget of US$4,668,704 (including initial working capital) is projected to be required to set up a socio-economically viable single line CTC tea factory operating at an input capacity of 2,608kg/hr of green leaf and output capacity of 600kg/hr ready-made tea.
- The most recent meeting of a delegation from Zombo with UDC officials was the second high-profile meeting after the first one held at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) in Kampala in 2019.
By Milton Emmy Akwam
Zombo – April 2, 2022: There are currently close to 1,000 registered tea farmers in Zombo district alone. The numbers increased between 2019 and 2021 when tea farming energetically resumed – thanks to the roles played by the Edwin Foundation Tea Initiative (EFOTI).
Over 500 acres of tea have been grown, and the total acreage is estimated to reach 1000 by the end of 2022.
The majority of Zombo tea farmers operate under a Cooperative society, a farming umbrella with a huge membership since its formation.
On March 31, 2022, Zombo Tea Framers Cooperative Society convened the Annual General Meeting (AGM), and a number of activities and expectations came up.
In that meeting, the cooperative society got some new executive members. Opio Victor was elected the vice-chairman.
Okello Jimmy was given another mandate to continue as the chairman of the cooperative.
In an interview with TND News on Saturday, Opio Victor said, “The AGM by the Cooperative Act is a yearly meeting for every cooperative society. This particular one happened to be that type.”
“Tea farmers who are members of the cooperative were in attendance, including the district leaders; audited accounts were read to the members,” he added.
According to Opio, the AGM also discussed the proposed tea factory to be set up in Zombo district.
Asked when the construction works are expected to start, he said, “We have met representatives from Uganda Development Cooperation. The feasibility study is out and it gives a positive report.”
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“They (UDC) are going to finalize with the land title,” he told this publication. Last year, the King of Alur, His Royal Majesty Rwoth Phillip Rauni Olarker III offered a chunk of land to the government for the establishment of a tea factory.
Once set up, the factory is expected to employ at least 1,000 people per district in the initial stage, according to Edwin Atukunda Beekunda, EFOTI Director in an interview in 2020.
There are over 40 districts in northern Uganda, and over 40,000 jobs would be created if all of them undertake tea growing.
“In tea, every farmer is employed and can employ all his family, it’s only the factory that may need skills but with the EFOTI on the ground with vast knowledge both in the fields and factories, the future is bright for northern Uganda. We dedicated 3 years and you can see the impact. We shall not leave (Northern Uganda) until we see a new north with tea,” Mr. Atukunda, said, in 2020.
Ochaya Orach Vincent is the former Prime Minister of Alur Kingdom. He has been assigned by his King as In charge of Partnerships, Donors, Investments, Administration, and Communications.
He spoke to TND News on Friday about leading a delegation from Zombo to UDC headquarters recently to follow up on the factory. “We are waiting for the response from the UDC following my earlier letter to them. All things have to be formal.”
He said the Alur Kingdom has given additional land for the same, announcing that the land will be measured and handed over to UDC.
Brief proposed activities for the factory
June 2022 – September 2022: UDC will carry out the environmental impact assessment (EIA)
September 2022 – November – December 2022: Factory layout or architectural drawing.
January 2023 – February: Procurement processes expected to start
February 2023: Construction is expected to start.
By December 2023, the vice-chairman of the cooperative says they expect the factory to be running. However, he said, an entity (company) to manage the operations of the factory has to be formed.
“The delay of the factory has demoralized the farmers,” Opio who says he has planted 40 acres of tea, said.