Tea industry players in Rwenzori region and parts of Kigezi fight over tea leaves
Tea industry players in Rwenzori region and parts of Kigezi are fighting over tea leaves as new factories get established there.
Such competition has been common in the sugar industry under the so called “Sugarcane poaching” but it has now crossed to the Tea sector.
The competition among the players has seen the introduction of the term “bought Leaf”-meaning production of tea grown by small and unorganized players and bought by factories to produce black tea.
It is emerging that a significant increase in “bought leaf” production is pushing down quality of tea leading to the poor performance of the country’s tea sale at the Mombasa Tea auction.
Parliament’s Committee on Trade and Industry with some of the legislators hailing from Tooro launched an investigation into the tea industry and concluded that lack of regulation and stiff competition among players is hurting the industry.
The MPs who also visited tea Estates in Rwanda say big players in the Western region are trying to fight off competition from new factories that have recently been established there.
Players like McLeod Russel (U) Ltd, Rwenzori Commodities Ltd, Toro & Mityana Tea Company (TAMTECO), Mpanga Tea Growers, Kijura Tea Factory, Mabale Tea Factory and Rusekere Tea Factory have complained that the small players buy tea from out-growers that they have not invested in.
They claim that small players buy tea from farmers without ensuring good tea leaves picking or harvesting practices.
Richard Sendege, a Senior Research Officer with Parliament told Uganda Radio Network that the competition at the local market is turning disastrous for the country’s other strategic export commodity.
He says the competition has largely been caused by the privatization in the tea sub sector.