OVER 200 farmers from 14 wards in Bumbuli Council of Lushoto District inTanga region are now selling their produce to the revived Mponde Tea Factory.
According to Lushoto District Commissioner, Mr Kalisti Lazaro, the government has invested about 4bn/- to revive the tea industry, which was repossessed by the government in 2016.
The move sought to ensure availability of a reliable market for tea growers in Lushoto and Korogwe districts.
In March, this year, the government handed over the factory to Mponde Holdings Company, a joint venture between the Workers Compensation Fund (WCF) and the Public Service Social Security Fund (PSSSF), which had sought to invest in the factory.
PSSSF and WCF each own 42 per cent of the shares, while the government owns the remaining 16 per cent through the Treasury Registrar’s office.
Speaking during his inspection tour of development projects, DC Lazaro challenged tea farmers to increase their production and boost their economy since they have a reliable market.
Mr Lazaro recalled that the factory had ceased production 10 years ago but resumed operations a month ago, giving farmers a huge sigh of relief. Some farmers, he said, had lost hopes and opted to grow different crops.
According to the DC, while the renovation of the industry cost 700/-, the remaining amount will go into investment, purchase of vehicles and construction of houses for its staff.
To ensure reliable power supply, the DC said, the Tanzania National Electricity Supply Corporation (TANESCO) will install another transformer that will address the current power crisis.
For his side, the factory’s manager, Mr Sane Kwilabya, said they have produced a total of 27 tonnes of tea since resuming production on September 2, this year, and they have already secured markets in Pakistan.
He encouraged farmers to seize the opportunity by raising their production, saying the government’s decision to revive the factory is a blessing to Lushoto tea growers and will add value to domestically manufactured tea.
Mr Kwilabya revealed that the factory plans to hire up to 100 workers and address an employment challenge in the area.
He urged farmers to pick the best tea leaves so that the factory can continue producing quality tea for the world market.
Mponde Ward Councilor, Mr Richard Mbughuni, speaking on behalf of citizens, said the factory will promote tea cultivation and enhance individual and national income.
Mahange Village Chairperson, Mr Muhidini Mdoe thanked the government for reviving the factory and pledged to motivate farmers to revive tea farms and capitalize on the presence of a reliable and close market.