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APO International

Tea woes: Cabinet paper to guide sector in offing

todayFebruary 13, 2024

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Government is expected to present an information paper to Parliament on the status of the tea sector in the country by Wednesday, 21 February 2024.

According to Hon. David Bahati, the State Minister for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (Trade), a cabinet paper addressing concerns in the sector is expected to be presented and deliberated on, which will inform government’s way forward for the sector.

“An inter-ministerial committee chaired by the Prime Minister has been discussing this is issue and we have written a cabinet paper that will address issues like an immediate subsidy to relieve tea factories and farmers,” said Bahati.

AUDIO: Minister David Bahati

He said this in response to concerns by Hon. Gaffa Mbwatekamwa (NRM, Igara County West), during the plenary sitting on Tuesday, 13 February 2024.

Mbwatekamwa alluded to the day’s New Vision newspaper headline titled, “Nine tea factories shut down”, saying this is happening due to high costs of production.

“A unit per kilowatt of electricity is about Shs3,470 unlike those producing within industrial parks where a kilowatt is bought at Shs1,900 and some cents. The Government has failed to provide markets for our tea,” he noted.

He urged government to prioritise subsidies for the sector to pull up the efforts of tea factories and farmers.

AUDIO: Hon. Gaffa Mbwatekamwa

“My prayer is that all the factories that have been shut down and those at the verge of shutting down should be bailed out the way we bailed out Atiak Sugar Limited,” Mbwatekamwa added.

Tea production is dominated by small-scale farmers who supply fresh tea leaves to processing plants and according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, tea is Uganda’s fourth agricultural export after coffee, maize and fish.

Hon. James Kaberuka (NRM, Kinkizi County West) expressed reservations on the minister’s commitments, saying government had previously alluded to a cabinet paper on the matter during the consideration of the National Budget Framework Paper.

“The minister knows that the tea industry brings a lot of money to this economy. I seek your indulgence Mr Speaker, to allow us bring a comprehensive motion on this matter that can be discussed at length,” said Kaberuka.

Hon. Dicksons Kateshumbwa (NRM, Sheema Municipality) urged government to consider establishing and implementing a tea policy to enable Uganda earn better on the international market.

AUDIO: Hon. Dicksons Kateshumbwa

“People pluck the leaves without guidance, that is why Uganda fetches the lowest amount on tea in the region –  but not because we do not have fertile soils. We need that policy to improve our quality,” Kateshumbwa said.

The Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, said Minister Bahati’s statement will be extensively debated by the House.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.

 

  

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