IN response to the government's call to increase production and value addition to Tanzania's traditional cash crops.
DL Group announced here that it was working hard in conjunction with the Tea Board of Tanzania to make Dar es Salaam a strategic international tea marketing and transit hub.
"It is a huge ambition, but we are on course," the DL Group Chairman, Dr David Langat declared here in a special interview, further explaining: "The government of Tanzania has a clear position on honest investors and it is very positive on decent private sector initiatives.
This kind of government's stand is very, very important in making Tanzania one of Africa's tea production and trading hub."
In the budget speech covering the current fiscal year, tea was one of the eight key traditional cash crops listed by the agriculture ministry and which the ministry said was seeking serious production and processing attention under the Agricultural Sector Development Programme (ASDP II), Phase Two. Other crops are cotton, pyrethrum, cashew nut, sisal, sugar, coffee and tobacco.
The ministry said tea production in 2018/2019 year was expected to reach 35,000 tonnes.
Dr Langat said prospects for stepped up tea production and processing were bright because, tea was not a new crop to Tanzanian growers and already the country is a key exporter of tea in East and Central Africa and the international market.
"What is needed now is to increase investment in efficient, lean and cost effective technology, improve product quality through capacity building.
Good farm management and processing practices and give opportunities to smallholders to grow tea in an environmentally sustainable manner, clear trading bottlenecks and open markets in Europe and Asia.
All stakeholders must play their part." As part of its economic and social responsibility, he explained that the DL Group invested in to a number of nonperforming tea companies in the Southern Highlands and a tea blending & warehousing facility in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The company has invested heavily in reviving the abandoned estates and factories and has gained confidence from the smallholder farmers and suppliers and statutory bodies by clearing long outstanding debts.
The company, he further explained, has improved tea production in Iringa and Njombe regions and sequel to those efforts for the first time some Tanzania tea, including Kibena and Itona marks fetched better prices compared to some high performing Kenyan factory teas at the Mombasa auction.
The company has also invested in the rehabilitation of more than 160ha of tea fields including the tea research institute Igoda farm in Mufindi District.
With the licensing of RVTS Warehouse, the first of its kind in Dar es Salaam, the tea board of Tanzania is in discussions with the company to facilitate a stakeholder meeting with buyers.
Producers and broker members of the East African Tea Traders Association, government agencies and key tea stakeholders to discuss ways of streamlining the export procedures of tea to other countries and encouraging other countries to use the Dar es Salaam port as a tea transit route in the region as a cheaper option.
The chairman said the company was working with the government to remove transportation constraints that contribute to making Tanzania's tea expensive at the tea auction, constraints that also contribute to low prices given to growers.