KABAROLE – The Operation Wealth Creation Chief Coordinator, Rtd Gen Salim Saleh has urged tea factories in Rwenzori region to put more emphasis on extension services as one way of improving the quality of tea.
Speaking to hundreds of tea farmers during the annual general meeting for Mpanga Tea factory, Gen Saleh observed that due to lack of extension services, the quality of green leaf that is being brought to the factory was sub-standard.
“Your extension system is, I think, very weak because I have walked through your factory but unfortunately I realized that the raw materials that you are feeding the factory currently can’t give you the desired high quality fine tea product” Gen Saleh said.
According to Gen Saleh, farmers were supplying the factory with poorly picked tea leaves ignoring the recommended two leaves and a bud.
Gen Saleh stated that the tea quality must improve first if factories are to target international markets.
He disclosed that government is to give Mpanga Tea Factory Shs 1.5bn as one way of boosting it.
“I have spent two years trying to help Mpanga tea factory but I think we (NAADS/OWC) are now in a better position to help you,” he said.
He explained that the money should be used to purchase farm inputs that among others include fertilizers, packaging materials, herbsides, and two Lorries to transport green leaf from farmers to the factory.
“OWC will procure and deliver to you farm inputs that can at least last you for two seasons,” he said.
He added that government will also work with the factory management on how working capital can be availed.
Samson Agasa, the board chairperson Mpanga tea factory said that most farmers have stopped supplying green leaf to the factory due to non- payment.
He also said that the factory is struggling to pay a bank loan of Shs 6bn that was acquired from a commercial bank.