The New Times (Kigali)

13 January 2014

Rwanda: Nyamagabe Tea Farmers Get Vocational Training School

Officials from Rwanda Mountain Tea, in partnership with Kitabi Tea Factory, have handed over a newly-constructed vocational training school to Nyamagabe District.

The school, named Uwinkingi, was handed over on Friday as part of the Tea Farmers' Day celebrations that at Kitabi Tea Estate.

The factory director, Jean Mutabazi, said more than Rwf60 million was spent on the school meant to help train local communities in tea production and other vocational skills.

Mutabazi said the factory produces 2,000 tonnes of tea per year, but target to double production by 2016.

"We help our farmers to get fertilisers to boost their production and we have also increased on the price of tea. Previously, farmers would earn Rwf86 per kilogramme of tea but today it is at Rwf154 and hope it will increase with time to benefit the farmers," he said.

Sothern Province governor Alphonse Munyantwari lauded Rwanda Mountain Tea for the initiative in promoting technical education in the area and urged the residents to embrace it.

"There is always a solution to our problems but there is need to have a will to address the challenges around us. So I call on you to utilise this opportunity that has been given to you and also urge you to live in unity and harmony," Munyantwari said.

Changing lives:

The governor also called on the tea farmers to work harder to boost tea production.

Apart from the school, 14 farmers with the best tea gardens were rewarded with a cow each, while 50 others received goats.

Alexandre Ntakirutimana, from Gititi Village, said the factory has enabled many of them achieve their dream as he has managed to acquire a motorcycle from tea farming, which he says has helped him increase on his income.

He said the new school will help their children acquire vocational skills.

"Our children used to travel long distances to go to school and sometimes would fail to get jobs after. But with this vocational centre that has been launched today, they will be able to get hands-on skills that will help them create their own jobs," he said.

Joseph Nzeyimana, one of the tea farmers who received a cow, said their village was previously marred by hunger but all that changed when they started receiving support from the factory.

The Tea Farmers' Day is an initiative of Rwanda Mountain Tea aimed at giving back to the communities they work with and also celebrating their past achievements.

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