25 December 2012

Rwanda: Local Tea Firm Contracts Kenyan Experts to Set Up Management Model

Photo: Hannah McNeish/IRIN
Tea seller.

Rwanda Tea Investment, a firm that recently bought Mulindi and Shagasha tea factories, subcontracted the Kenya Tea Development Agency for a period of seven years to help set up the small-scale tea management model used in Kenya.

RTI bought the two factories through financing from Wood Family Trust, a bank in the United Kingdom after signing a Memorandum of Understanding.

Mulindi tea factory was acquired for a total of $5.2 million, while Shagasha was bought for $3.8 million by RTI.

Speaking to the Business Times, Head of Tea Division at the National Agriculture Export Board (NAEB) Jean Damascene Gasarabwe, said that RTI's objective in outsourcing the Kenyan agency was to increase tea production and productivity, capacity building, use of ICT, efficiency management besides increasing farmers' profit in the selling of tea.

"Five experts have been deployed in each of the tea factories," he said.

Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) says the move follows an invitation by the Rwandan government to replicate the Kenya model by centralising the selling of tea.

"We have been hired to train cooperatives in Rwanda on our small holder model which is one of the most sought after case studies in the region in tea management, KTDA chief executive officer Lerionka Tiampati said in Nairobi last Tuesday.

Tiampati said the Rwandan government had been privatising most of the tea cooperatives in the country but after it remained with two, it decided to rethink its strategy and adopt the Kenyan model.

KTDA says this will put it in a good position to handle more foreign exchange earnings from tea exports.

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