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New tea growing initiative launched in Gulu

Edwin Foundation Tea Initiative, in partnership with the Gulu district local government, has launched tea growing in Gulu district.

Speaking at the launch of tea growing at Lugore Prison Farm over the weekend, Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Major Santos Okot Lapolo, urged the locals to take it up, calling it a long-term investment that will improve their livelihoods.

“They kept on telling us that the weather here cannot favour tea growing, but am impressed by what I am seeing on the ground. We now need to mobilize the locals so that extension workers can teach the population about tea growing so that the initiative is taken up in full gear,’’ he said, adding that the extension workers should be trained first before the crop growing is rolled out to the targeted members.

The Operation Wealth Creation Officer for Gulu, Ben Acellam, said they are already on the ground mobilizing those who are interested so that they kick-start the programme.

“ At the moment we shall be using Lugore prison farm for demonstration since we have tea already planted, as we complete the paperwork on how government can procure seedlings for those who are interested,’’ he said.

“We hope the communities pick interest in the crop, since the research that has been conducted shows that it can grow here just like in Western Uganda.”

The proprietor of Edwin Foundation Tea Initiative, Edwin Benkunda Atukunda, said that he introduced tea growing in Gulu in 2018, and at the moment the 500 plants are promising.

“In the last two years, we have been trying to grow tea here and we are glad that the results are positive. I am now requesting for the farmers to put in a formal requisition to the government under Operation Wealth Creation so that they receive tea seedlings,” he said.

Atukunda is convinced that if the farmers are supported in tea growing, it will be easy to set up a factory, with support of government and other partners.

Joachim Labongo, who is interested in tea growing, said the colonial education system is partly to blame for the biting poverty in the region.

“Right away in schools, we were taught of the crops that grow in each region, something that was not true. Look at the Matooke growing in Gulu now. In the past, we were discouraged from growing it, but some of us tried it out, and lately we are yielding. There is no doubt that I am going to also embark on tea growing,’’ he said

Tea was introduced in Uganda in 1900 and remains one of the country’s leading cash crops to
date.

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