UGANDA—According to the local daily newspaper, The Daily Monitor, a group of tea farmers in Uganda’s Kanunga District has begun uprooting their plantations due to persistently low crop prices.

The farmers in Kayonza Sub-County, Buhoma Town Council, Butogota Town Council, Mpungu Sub-County, and Kyeshero Sub-County are among those uprooting the crop.

Farmers allege that the price of green tea leaves has plummeted from Sh 500 to Sh 200 per kilogramme, discouraging them from continuing with their enterprise.

Consequently, due to the high cost of plucking, fertilizer application, and plantation maintenance in general, their motivation to continue has dwindled.

Mr Francis Byamukama of Kayonza remarked that due to poor prices, he has uprooted 7 acres of tea from the initial 14 acres and plans to venture into maize and banana growing so that he can provide food for his family.

Moreover, Mark Byabagambi, a farmer from Buhoma Town Council, claimed that while his education was funded by tea cultivation, he is unable to support his children’s education due to poor green leaf pricing.

He further claimed that of the sh 200 paid, he spends sh 130 on a tea plucker and has just sh. 70 left over to buy fertilizer and pay casual labourers for the tea plantation’s maintenance.

Mr. Frank Byaruhanga, the chairperson of South Western Tea Nursery bed operators, disclosed that they have already sent a petition to Parliament and Cabinet over the low tea prices.

He believes that this will prompt action to fix the challenges raised by tea farmers in the district.

Meanwhile, Mr Joshua Rukundo, the chairman of the district production, trade, and natural resources committee, urged farmers to be patient while they engage the government about the issues in the tea sector.

Mr Sam Arinaitwe Kajojo, the district chairperson, told the district council last week that tea farmers are demotivated and require assistance.

He emphasized the need for collective efforts to encourage the farmers not to lose hope in the tea enterprise.

Notably, he stated that he will continue to engage the government to ensure that tea farmers get better prices for their produce.

Mr. Jonatham Musinguzi, General Manager of Kayonza Grower’s Tea Factory, which is the major buyer of green tea leaves in the Kanungu district, stated that because the exported tea fetches low prices at the Mombasa auction market, they are unable to reduce the amount paid to the farmers after supplying their tea leaves.

Furthermore, he stated that the factory is unable to purchase fertilisers for farmers due to financial constraints, resulting in low-quality green tea leaves.

He determined that the high cost of utilizing generators to power tea processing due to unreliable hydroelectricity supply has increased the cost of tea processing, forcing them to reduce the amount they pay farmers of green tea leaves supplied.

Since President Museveni launched tea cultivation in the Kigezi sub-county in 2008, there are over 13,700 farmers active in tea growing in Kanungu, with over seven tea processing plants.