Tea growers in the mid-south western region (Greater Bushenyi) have petitioned the government to help tea farmers by setting up an institute mandated and responsible for tea production in the country.
They said tea, as a cash crop in Uganda, has not been given enough attention from the Government in terms of research unlike in neighbouring countries like Kenya where Kericho Institute is responsible for tea-related research.
They said after the collapse of the former East African Community (EAC), Uganda pulled out from Kericho but the institute continued supporting the tea growers in Kenya.
As a result, they said, Kenya is benefiting from foreign exchange because of countries like Cameroon, Malawi, and Rwanda which prefer to procure tea seedlings from Kericho. The tea farmers raised the concern during the Igara Tea factory growers shareholders annual general meeting at the factory last week in Kyamuhunga, Bushenyi district.
Igara's board of directors' chairman, Arthur Babu Muguzi, said despite their efforts to help farmers re-fix nitrogen into the soils using fertilisers, they don't know whether they are doing the right thing.
"We have new varieties of tea seedlings but it's unfortunate we do not know the status of our soils," Muguzi said. Muguzi said unlike other crops which are receiving funding for research from the Government, tea hasbeen neglected. He also noted that only five tea factories are owned by tea growers while 24 are in private hands.