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Rwanda to increase tea plantations

23 April 2013, 14:41 Ben Gasore

Kigali – Rwanda, one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, says it will increase the country’s tea plantations by 18 000 hectares by the end of 2017.

The country’s Minister of Agriculture, Agnes Kalibata, says the plan to increase hectares is a part of efforts by the National Agriculture Export Development Board (NAEB) to boost tea production.

Dubbed “New tea plantations and factory construction approach (2012-2017)”, the programme is part of NAEB’s broader scheme to increase economic performance.

Kalibata disclosed this last week shortly after presenting the country’s tea production strategy.

NAEB statistics indicate that the first phase which ran from 2004 to 2012 saw 20,665 hectares of land planted with tea.

“We have had the plan to increase tea plantations in the country, but the process has been slow. We have developed mechanisms to ensure an increase of tea farms by 18,000 ha within five years,” she said.

Kalibata explained that the expansion programme from 2012 to 2017 on existing tea farms and factories will increase the production of tea in the country which currently stands at 24,000 tons annually.

The minister said she was confident the target was achievable.

The tea plantation expansion initiative was highlighted during the national Integrated Development Programme (IDP) meeting that brought together senior government officials from various ministries and affiliated agencies at Prime Holdings, Kimihurura.

At the forum mayors and governors were tasked to look for possible approaches to enhance tea farming and as well boost crop intensification programmes.

According to Alex Kanyankole, the director general of NAEB, resistance of some farmers to engage in tea farming, was a still a challenge.

“The target is achievable if we work together as a team. We have mapped out the plan to increase tea production capacity,” he noted.

According to NAEB, the on-going new tea projects will help increase the existing plantation capacity for existing operational factories.

Southern Province executive secretary Paul Jabo said infrastructural development challenges like the road network that connects tea estates pose a threat to the output.

“The construction of feeder roads that connect tea estates should be looked at when we commit ourselves to increase tea production in the country.”

The forum also deliberated on the relocation of people from high-risk zones, the increase of alternative energy sources, the status of Genocide survivors, and agriculture transformation.

– CAJ News

Tags rwanda

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