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Speaker Among to address tea sector plight as farmers ask for Shs 5bln

KAMPALA, February 27, 2024 – Speaker Anita Among has pledged that Parliament’s  assist the hard-hit tea sector, which is faced with price drops and expensive inputs, forcing some farmers to abandon their farms.

In a meeting with sector leaders from the tea farmers of Kabarole district who presented a petition, Among said the otherwise profitable crop has been ruined by neglect, and promised that Parliament will exhaustively address their concerns.

“We are going to exhaustively look at your prayers and handle them one by one; thank you for choosing Parliament to handle your issues…I have heard other farmers cutting down their tea plantations out of frustration; Parliament through the Committee on Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries will adequately address your concerns,” Among said on Monday.

Speaker Among said unlike coffee and cotton which have various systems supporting their marketing, the tea sector is noticeably bereft of any institutional framework to support its marketing and negotiate better prices and subsidies.

“There is no marketing strategy for tea; we don’t have appropriate mechanisms to promote tea, yet it is strategic and brings in so much money; we should have a legal framework to support its growing, marketing and quality management,” she added.

The tea farmers’ petition was presented by Sifar Sanyu, in the presence of Richard Rwabuhinga, the President of Uganda Local Government Association.

Their main concern centered around prices, a comprehensive policy on tea, among others.

“Government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries should spearhead a faster processing of enacting a comprehensive tea policy which will address issues of green leaf and processed tea quality thus increasing the selling prices of Uganda’s tea on the global market,” reads the petition in part.

Tea farmers ask for Shs 5 billion stabilisation fund

The tea farmers prayed for a Shs 5 billion stabilisation fund to bail out those struggling in the sector, a one year waiver on corporate statutory obligations and a subsidy on inputs for the sector.

Rule 30 of the Parliament Rules of Procedure provides mechanisms for managing petitions, which starts with a Member of Parliament presenting it to Parliament, sent to the relevant Committee, and then disposed of by House through considering specific prayers in the Committee.

More details

Uganda produced at least 80,000 tons of tea in 2022.  At least 5 percent of the total production is consumed in the domestic market.  

Most of Uganda’s tea is exported through the Mombasa Tea Auction in Kenya.  The value of tea exports is US$ 88.36 million, mostly semi-processed.
By 2023, Uganda was receiving US$ 0.71 per kilogramme at the auction market in Mombasa, compared to Rwanda’s US$ 3.15 and Kenya’s US$ 2.22 per kilo.

Garden-to-factory prices have dropped from Shs 700 per kilogram to Shs 200 per kilo or less.

According to Bushenyi District Woman Member of Parliament,  Annet Katusiime,  tea farmers are unable to afford the high prices of fertilisers and pesticides.

“There are also fake fertilisers on the market which are compromising the quality of our tea. Government should intervene on this,” she said.

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