TANZANIA – Unilever Tea Tanzania Limited (UTT), has commissioned a US$21.5 million (Tzs 49.6 billion) state-of-the-art tea processing plant as it counties to make inroads in the sector.
The modern facility has a capacity of processing 50 tonnes of green tea per day.
Speaking during the launch,President John Magufuli hailed the investment by the firm and called upon government agencies to ensure that they play facilitative roles in the endeavour to attract investors.
“Over 49bn/-(US$21 million) has been invested in this facility, there must be strategic measures to have it protected to ensure it operates smoothly and continues creating jobs and realise our goal of building an industrial based economy,” he pointed out.
According to David Minja, Unilever Tanzania Managing Director, the company has employed over 7,000 people and benefited over 40,000 others through its investments, including the factory.
“We are committed to ensuring that we offer training on modern tea farming to enable farmers get quality output and get good price for their produce,” he added.
Unilever Tea Tanzania has been a major player in the developing the sector investing more than US$43.2 million in various projects across the country to support the sector.
In 2013, the firm entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Agriculture in Tanzania to facilitate development of the tea industry in the country.
Unilever Tea pledged to invest in green leaf collection and transportation infrastructure; sponsor farmers’ field schools; improve farmers’ technical skills in farm management and supporting them with inputs and planting material among other commitments.
The government also committed to developing the physical infrastructure and avail 1,600 hectares of land to the firm to facilitate
Unlike its competitor, Kenya, the tea sector in the country is largely dominated by large scale farmers who contribute about 70% of the commodity while small holder farmers currently contribute 30% of green tea that is processed in the factories.
Tanzania has also mapped out a strategy opening tea action centre in the country to further boost the sector.