Speaking to journalists during a learning tour at the Mufindi tea factory in Iringa region, UTT Njombe factory manager, Alawi Mdee told journalists who visited tea farmers in the region that after raising farmers’ incomes in the area (Mufindi), the company was working on ways of replicating the same in Njombe.
“A total of 18bn/- was spent in building UTT’s Njombe factory. The factory was commissioned in March, 2018…It will be receiving 70 per cent of its green leaf from small-scale farmers. Want to build on the Mufindi experience in quality,” he said.
The money, he said, does not include what the company has invested in its 400 hectares farms Njombe estate which provides the remaining 30 per cent of the factory’s green leaf requirements.
According to Alawi, the benefits of quality go back to the small scale farmer.
To achieve the required tea leaf quality and deliver benefits to farmers, UTT Tanzania Managing Director, Ashton Eastman said the company was working with the Njombe Out growers Services Company (NOSC).
NOSC is funded by the East Africa Trade Initiative (EATI), the latter being set up with funds from the Wood Foundation Africa and Gatesby Foundation.
UTT and EATI have invested and come up with the Njombe Outgrowers Services Company.
Through the NOSC, said Eastman, Unilever was helping the government to develop cooperative structures. “The goal is to ensure that these cooperatives will ultimately become knowledgeable and financially capable to be self-sufficient,” he said.
According to Alawi, a special campaign that specifically deals with quality of tea leaves from Njombe will kick off next month when farmers who bring quality tea will start receiving their quality premiums.
The UTT’s Njombe factory has a capacity of processing 50 tonnes of green leaves per day but according to Alawi, it is getting only less than 10 tonnes per day.
“This means that the factory was operating below its capacity. We are working with various stakeholders to raise output and deliver benefits to farmers,” he said.