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Farmers To Earn Sh4m Per Kg Of Specialty Tea

by Jacquiline Nakandi
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By Nelson Mandela Muhoozi

Tay Bernadine, the founding director of the European Specialty Tea Association, lauded the quality of African teas at the inaugural African Specialty Tea Conference and Expo.

This event, held from May 22-23 at the Nandi Bears Club in Nandi County, Kenya, showcased the potential of African specialty teas on a global stage.

Organised by the Purple and Specialty Tea Association of Kenya (PSTAK), the conference highlighted the promising future for African specialty teas.

It attracted a diverse group of participants, including government officials from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique, as well as certified international tea testers.

Over 30 Ugandan tea farmers attended, eager to learn from Kenya’s advancements in tea quality and specialty tea cultivation. International tea tasters at the expo praised the quality of African teas, including Ugandan teas.

Bernadine emphasised the untapped potential of Ugandan teas, noting the importance of storytelling, transparency and willingness to sell in smaller quantities to achieve higher prices.

She highlighted the rising demand for health and wellness teas, driven by informed consumers.

“People don’t actually buy tea; they buy an experience,” Bernadine remarked, urging farmers to focus on the five Ps: plant, place, process, people and price.

By innovating in these areas, she said Ugandan farmers can create distinctive products that resonate with global consumers. She noted that one gram of specialty tea can cost a euro (sh4,142) in markets, such as Germany, France and the Netherlands.

This means that some specialty teas can fetch as much as sh4,142,000 (euros 1,000) per kg.

Johnston Sharyn from Australian Tea Masters, echoed Bernadine’s sentiments, underscoring the importance of process and quality.

 She shared that some specialty teas can sell for up to $240 (sh918,000) per kg in Canada, illustrating the high value of well-crafted teas.

George Omuga, the managing director of the East African Tea Trade Association (EATTA), urged farmers to adopt green and specialty teas, which can yield more than 10 times the income of traditional black tea.

“Embracing these high-value tea varieties can revolutionise the tea industry in East Africa,” Omuga added. In Kenya, some farmers are already earning up to $150 (sh572,000) per kilo of specialty teas.

Ugandan brands shine

Ugandan tea brands stood out during the conference, earning praise from international experts.

Mutungi, the producer of Mackie Organic Tea from Western Uganda, was recognised in the white tea category for her commitment to quality and the specialty tea trend.

Mutungi received cash prizes and certificates from international tea experts, securing the second position in the emerging tea producers’ category.

 Similarly, Sarah Basasa, the producer of Tooro Alpha tea, excelled in the green tea category, achieving third place. Mozambique secured the first position in this category.

Success

Maclean Mutungi Kyamutetera, the producer of Mackie Organic Tea shared her journey in embracing the specialty tea trend.

“Our work is manual, and there is no need for machines. The objective is to produce completely organic tea,” she explained.

The producer of Tooro Alpha tea, Sarah Basasa, said: “Specialty tea is not complex to produce, and they fetch handsomely. This will be a big saver for cottage farmers who have suffered from price shocks.”

She noted that international recognition affirms Uganda’s capability to produce high-quality teas that can compete globally.

“It is better to process tea in smaller quantities cheaply and earn more money than processing tonnes of black teas and earning peanuts,” Basasa noted.

LEAD PHOTO CAPTION: Mutungi, the producer of Mackie Organic Tea showcasing her product.

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