The Tea Research Institute of Tanzania (TRIT) has adopted technology transfer programme aimed to ensure that appropriate technologies are developed, tested and delivered to stakeholders to solve practical constraints facing tea growers in the country.
Technologies being adopted also are meant to improve plant materials and promote access to local and international markets.
TRIT executive director Prof Bruno Ndunguru said this yesterday when he briefed a European Union delegation led by Ambassador Filiberto Ceriani Sebregondi which visited the Centre on Tuesday.
At the briefing also, he stressed on the importance of technology for improved livelihoods of tea growers, particularly women, and also increasing foreign exchange earnings.
“Our task is to identify constraints on social, economic and technical factors affecting productivity in all tea growing areas and to identify potential solutions for the purpose of developing short and long term research strategies to overcome identified constraints,” he said.
He pointed out that recent research results on tea improvement have been made available to stakeholders and have improved clones in Kenya and Malawi, adding that similar clones have been introduced in Tanzania as part of adaptability trials.
“Yes....various researches in the tea sector has shown green indication in which we have four clones that have been released,” he said, adding: “New tea growing areas have been identified and currently clones are being evaluated at Ndengo and Ugano Stations in Mbinga District .Long term breeding programme is underway”.
The executive director also said that the tea sector had potential of yielding10 times the current capacity per hectare if the country addressed effectively existing challenges. He explained that 6,080 kilograms could be obtained from one hectare of the current 610 kilograms.
Ndunguru mentioned lack of nutrition to tea plantation as one of the major reasons for low yields. According to him, poor nutrition has been causing the country loss of more than 3,000 kilograms of tea in each hectare.
Others include drought which causes loss of 1,520 kilograms, and vacancies and poor harvests causing loss of 300 kilograms and 610 kilograms per hectare respectively.
To address the challenges, Prof Ndunguru said there was a need to offer effective training to smallholder farmers on input use and field management. Also, he said the issue of identification, control as well as management of pests and diseases should be given special priority.
He also said that small farmers required capacity building in irrigation, harvests and processing.