Unilever takes part in expansion of US$20m greenfield tea project in Rwanda

RWANDA – The Government of Rwanda has partnered with Unilever Tea Rwanda and The Wood Foundation Africa (TWFA) to commence the second phase of the Nyaruguru tea project in the Southern province of the country, injecting US$20 million in the developmental initiative.

This comes after the successful completion of the first phase of the project which broke ground in 2017 and consisted of a 3,400-hectare smallholder catchment, supported by a dedicated farmer services company which operates an 800-hectare commercial plantation feeding the processing factory operated by Unilever Tea Rwanda.

According to reports by RNA News, Phase II will see the project expand to have a combined 6,400 hectares for smallholder tea out-growers, two processing factories and the continued support from the Services Company of Nyaruguru.

Its aim is to enable farmers to effectively plant to scale and produce quality tea for both domestic and export market, in an area where growing of high-value crops was initially restricted due to the acidic nature of the soils.

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“This project shows the power of partnership as we can both grow great tea in Rwanda for our brands and transform the lives of thousands of farmers.”

Unilever’s Africa Vice President for Supply Chain – Christian Byron

To this end thousands of farmers and their families will be able to transform their lives by having a source of income and create thousands of jobs within the community.

“Nyaruguru tea project is expected to positively impact the livelihood of farmers by increasing their income.

“Moreover, the project will further contribute to the growth of tea exports, which are expected to generate US$209 Million by 2024. This project is the best investment to add value to the acidic soils,” said Gérardine Mukeshimana, Minister of Agriculture.

The Nyaruguru tea project has not only been the largest greenfield tea project in Africa, but also unique in that smallholder farmers represent the majority of individuals in the production process.

“This is an ambitious and exciting development for the country and builds upon the already successful relationship we have with both Unilever and the Government of Rwanda. 

“Ultimately, this is all about the smallholder tea farmer, helping them to retain and build value on their land by creating a very long-term biological asset while ensuring a premium market is in place for quality green leaf,” commented Sir Ian Wood, the Chairman of TWFA.

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Christian Byron, Unilever’s Africa Vice President for Supply Chain stated, “This project shows the power of partnership as we can both grow great tea in Rwanda for our brands and transform the lives of thousands of farmers. 

“There is no better endorsement for the efforts of the Rwandan Government, The Wood Foundation Africa, Nyaruguru farmers and hard work of our staff than to see this expansion.”

Unilever is one of the world’s largest tea business with leading brands such as Lipton Yellow Label, PG Tips, Brooke Bond Red Label and many others.

The Wood Foundation Africa is a Scottish-registered organization that focuses on improving the livelihoods of farmers in Africa through venture philanthropy.

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