Tea shortage Rwanda - There is need to increase tea production in Western Province as the local factories lack enough tea to process, a meeting in Karongi district has agreed. The tea shortage was raised, on Wednesday, during a meeting that brought together officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Western Province and the processors.
The Provincial Governor, Celestin Kabahizi, said the current tea yield is too small to satisfy local tea factories, which he said discourages the processing industry.
The concerns come at a time new processing plants are being established, including one in Sovu, Ngororero district.
Corneille Ntakirutimana, the deputy director-general of the National Agricultural Export Development Board , said the new plants will not face tea shortage because of an ongoing project to increase tea production in the province.
Ngororero district vice-mayor for economic affairs Emmanuel Mazimpaka said the tea factory in his district only gets 60 per cent of the tea they process from local farmers.
The director of Karongi tea project, Joseph Barayagwiza, said the plant in his district has the capacity of processing 15 tonnes of tea leaves per day, but it processes, at most, 12 tonnes from local farmers.
Ntakirutimana said Karongi Tea Factory, opened in January, is also facing drawbacks as it cannot readily get enough supply of tea leaves for full capacity running.
"The target is to increase the production so that the plant can get enough quantity by the end of this year," he said.
According to Ntakirutimana, the problem is that factories are increasing processing capacity faster than the tea farmers are producing. He said there are already plans to extend the cultivated area and implement other measures to increase production.
He said the target is that by 2017 the plan is to have at least 1,800 hectares of new cultivated land, which he said, in addition to the existing production, will see the plant fully replenished.
By Théogène Ishimwe
The New Times/15/03/2013