Analysis of Factors that Determine the Income of Tea Growers: Case Study of Kyamuhunga Sub-county Bushenyi District
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Like Kenya and Tanzania, Uganda has had to fight to keep their tea industry alive and thriving. After Kenya (Kenya is Africa’s leading exporter of tea) and Malawi, Uganda is the third largest exporter of tea in Africa. Uganda’s exports, both in value and volume, continue to maintain an upward trend. Tea was first introduced in the Botanic Gardens at Entebbe, Uganda in 1909, but commercial cultivation didn't begin until the late 1920's when Brooke Bond began extensive plantings. With its temperate climate and rich soil, Uganda grows some of the world's top quality tea. But in the 1970s tea productions nearly stopped due to warfare, economic upheaval, and the government's expulsion of many Asian owned tea estates. In the early 1980s, British businessman and entrepreneur, Mitchell Cotts returned to Uganda and formed the Toro and Mityana Tea Co., (Tametco), a joint venture with the government. This move increased tea production from 1,700 tons in 1981 to 5,600 tons in 1985. Currently, Ugandan tea is commonly grown on the slopes of Mount Rwenzori and along the crescent of Lake Victoria areas of Bushenyi, Hoima, Kabarole, Kanungu, Kibaale, Kisoro, Mbarara, Mukono, Mityana, Rukungiri and Wakiso. These areas are consistent with tea growing requirements of a temperate climate with an average precipitation of between 1000mm and 1500mm for not less than 150 days per annum. In the above areas, temperatures range from 200C-250C, an altitude of over 1500m above sea level with rich well drained fertile soils and soil alkalinity levels of not more than PH6. In Uganda smallholders are defined as those cultivating 8 acres or less of land. Uganda’s Smallholders are estimated to be around 50,000 occupying approximately 12,000Ha and producing around 28 percent of total tea production (Kiwanuka and Ahmed, 2012) Historically, Uganda’s small holders were organized in four groups with each group owning one factory in Igara, Kayonza, Mpanga and Buhungu. By 2002 groups had grown to 26 associations. The groups were organized around the existing 26 factories in and around western Uganda. Today, the factories are now 32 in number. Bushenyi district has the highest number of households growing about 56 percent of total tea production in Uganda followed by kyenjojo. Both districts are located in the Western part of the country .Tea export performance however in the last three years has almost doubled in the areas of Kigezi. Pricing of tea unlike coffee, there is sell through auction and private deals. In the auction, tea prices are determined by supply and demand, quality and geographical location-highland tea fetch more prices (MAAIF, 2012). Consequently, there is no single price for tea. Every auction determines its own price through a reserve price and a bidding process which varies with quality and quantity.