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Iringa. In an attempt to revitalise the tea industry, the government has embarked on measures to increase tea production, which has recently been falling.
The measures include increasing production of quality tea, financing the Tea Board of Tanzania (TBT) to enable it to carry out generic promotions, equipping processing factories with modern technologies and changing citizens’ mindsets on tea.
According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on the trend of tea production, tea yields declined from 32,629 tonnes in 2016 to 26,975 tonnes in 2017.
However, the crop yields increased gradually to 34,010 tonnes and 37,193 tonnes in 2018 and 2019 respectively before falling by 22.8 percent to 28,715 tonnes in 2020.
The NBS statistics show that Tanzania tea earnings declined to Sh73.9 billion in 2020 after increasing steadily from Sh96.9 billion in 2016 to 109 billion in 2017.
The 2020 decline translates to a Sh30.1 billion deficit when compared to Sh104 billion earned in 2019, which is equivalent to 28.9 percent.
The Tanzania Trade Development Authority (TanTrade) commodities in international markets prices show that by January 2022, one tonne of tea was traded at $2,290 equivalent to Sh5.27 million.
Tea Research Institute of Tanzania (TRIT) director, Dr Emmanuel Simbua attributes the price decline to the falling prices in the global market.
“The trend didn’t affect Tanzania alone but many other global tea producers. However, inadequate funding to institutions responsible for overseeing tea production and crop prosperity such as the TBT, smallholder farmers, agents as well as the TRIT was another reason,” he says.
Mr Simbua adds that the yields were high in 2019 due to the massive investment in the sector, therefore enabling huge production of tea seedlings, which in turn benefitted large scale producers thanks to the then good prices in the world market.