EFOTI says it will continue to engage different stakeholders and tea farmers across the country until the end of 2022.
Ankole – November 1, 2022: Ten important people from Zombo district in West Nile sub-region concluded their agricultural tours of Greater Bushenyi [Ankole region] on Sunday, October 30, 2022.
The Zombo group was led by Jimmy Okello, the chairperson of Zombo Tea Growers’ Cooperative Society Limited.
His group included tea farmers and parish chiefs from more than three sub-counties in the district.
Under the host of the Edwin Foundation Tea Initiative [EFOTI], a company contracted by the cooperative to undertake different tea services from the gardens to value addition, the three-day field tours were focused on “effective tea husbandry and estate management”.
The visitors visited several tea plantations in Ishaka (Bushenyi) and Mitooma, including sightseeing at Kitagata host springs in Sheema district.
EFOTI, under its director and tea trainer Edwin Atukunda Beekunda, led the delegation to Global Village Tea Factory in Ishaka to network and learn how tea is processed, among others.
Atukunda also took Zombo team to different tea estates owned by model farmers in Greater Bushenyi.
Speaking after touring different units at Global Village Tea Factory owned by businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba, Atukunda said: “It’s our chance to come here, and it is also the chance of Hassan to go to Zombo.”
He added: “Zombo people, you have waited for long and your prayers are answered for coming here.” The factory currently employs people from West Nile, Lango, Teso and the natives.
On his part, the chairperson of the cooperative, Jimmy Okello, said: “My team, we need to thank the administration of this factory. They are very unique and welcoming.”
“This man (Edwin) has been with us, he has suffered with us and as our service provider, and we are ready to work with him. He has really sacrificed and bringing us from Zombo to here is not easy in management,” Okello said, adding that Edwin is doing everything possible to make things happen.
According to Okello, Zombo land is “very unique and better than here”. “Our land is very unique,” he emphasized.
Speaking to the visitors, including the EFOTI management and technical team on Sunday, the LC5 chairperson of Bushenyi district local government Jafari Basajjabalaba (Guest of Honor), said Bushenyi has hardworking people and is a model district growing coffee, tea, banana (matooke), among others.
“Sincerely, this is a good initiative. Tea in Bushenyi is giving people funds (money) and also employment,” he said, revealing that Kyamuhunga sub-county is one of the richest lower administrative units in the district.
In Kyamuhunga sub-county, Twijukye Richard Kahetsi is the only local businessman who packs tea. He told Zombo team that he has been packaging Kyamuhunga Fresh Tea for the last 2 years. He targets markets outside his areas, adding that he sells 500kg at shs5000 and 1kg at shs10, 000.
There is also cheaper packaging from shs100 to shs500.
“We get taxes from tea growing sector,” Jafari added, urging the people of Zombo to grow more.
In Bushenyi, the LC5 said their challenge is that some people have planted tea and left no land for food crops.
In Mitooma district, Tito Nsigaireho is one of the model tea farmers with 14.2 acres. The former NRM district chairperson said of one of his challenges: “Because everyone is employed as a tea farmer, getting laborers is a challenge.”
On Atukunda’s quest to have tea training institutes in the country, Jafari shares the same idea: “Mr Edwin, I agree with you to have more tea training institutes. So far in Bushenyi, we have factories: one for farmers and four privately owned. In total, in greater Bushenyi, we have a total of seven tea factories.”
He also revealed that more than 100 million tea seedlings have been distributed to greater Bushenyi and the president is calling for more to be distributed.
EFOTI says it will continue to engage different stakeholders and farmers across the country until the end of 2022. Similar training and tours, according to the director Atukunda will also take place in 2023.
Tea farming in Zombo district is taking shape with more farmers embracing and planting more seedlings as the government and investors from the UAE move to set up a factory.