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Ugandan Tea Farmers Tipped On Maintaining, Elevating Tea Quality

by Jacquiline Nakandi
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By Nelson Mandela Muhoozi

Ugandan tea farmers are getting a taste of success thanks to East African Community (EAC) tea traders sharing their expertise. 

This isn’t your average advice; the experts’ tips promise richer flavour, happier customers, and potentially more profit for Ugandan growers. So, what’s the secret sauce? 

David Mutangana, a seasoned tea trader from Rwanda, during his recent visit brought with him a treasure trove of insights, as he shared tips on maintaining and elevating tea quality.

Mutangana’s first nugget of advice emphasized the importance of education, particularly in good husbandry practices for nurturing tea bushes.

Stressing the significance of plucking within the optimal 14-day cycle, he highlighted the need for farmers to adhere to quality parameters for green leaf standards. His mantra of “2 leaves and a bud” resonated as a fundamental principle in maintaining fine plucking standards.

But why does fine plucking matter so much? Mutangana unravelled the mystery, explaining how it directly correlates with the desired characteristics of a perfect cup of tea: wholeness, full aroma, briskness, and flavour. 

“These characters are responsible for good cup quality,” he said, shedding light on the intricate dance between cultivation practices and sensory delight.

Delving deeper, Mutangana shared the economic benefits tied to fine plucking. Not only does it enhance cup quality, but it also boosts yield efficiency due to shorter plucking rounds. In stark contrast, coarse plucking was cautioned against for its detrimental impact on quality, leading to open leaves, reduced density and increased machine workload— ultimately inflating costs.

Drawing parallels to Rwanda’s tea landscape, Mutangana painted a picture of a unique terroir. Nestled in high elevations with fertile volcanic soil and moderate temperatures, Rwanda’s tea character is distinctive and sought-after. 

He credited this to the stringent quality standards enforced by Rwanda’s National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB), complemented by regular training sessions for tea makers.

This was during an engagement organised by the East African Tea Trade Association recently at Africana Hotel in Kampala. 

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