ZOMBO. As most sub counties in Zombo district grapple with inadequate funds to initiate learning visits for their farmers to learn good agricultural practices, Atyak sub county local government has scratched from its scarce resourced to organize a learning trip for its farmers to enable them acquire basic knowledge specifically in tea growing.
The sub county on Wednesday took over 40 farmers carefully selected from the various villages to a tea demonstration farm in Ocwalo village, Zeu Sub County where they were taken through tea growing processes from the nursery bed to the garden.
The tea demonstration farm, which is being managed by the Uganda Tea Development Agency Ltd (UTDAL), measures up to 40 acres.
Mr Amon Rutwaire, the branch manager UTDAL, said the agency is in the district to help develop the tea industry and pledged to offer free training to farmers who want to operate their own tea nursery beds.
He appealed to the farmers to embrace tea growing on account of its economic benefit that may see a farmer earning over 200,000 shillings monthly from an acre of tea garden.
“You see me here, I have 100 acres of tea in Bushenyi district and my family earns over shs100 million monthly from sales of green tea leaves to the factory”, Rutwaire said.
According to him, tea growing is a good project for poverty eradication especially for those with big chunks of land and especially its frequent picking unlike coffee which is picked once a year.
The Agricultural officer Atyak, Mr Richard Olokcwinyu said mobilization of young famers to grow tea needs motivation and continuous hands-on training.
He also called for involvement of the young people in tea growing and appealed to them to ask for land from their parents to undertake the lucrative tea growing that has just come to Zombo.
“Unlike coffee which is mostly owned by old folks, we want the young people as well to take part in tea growing to better their lives but not wait for their parents to die in order to inherit”, Olokcwinyu said.
To strengthen the work of the production department, Olokcwinyu called for increased funding to enable the department effectively mobilize farmers for increased agricultural productivity.
On the other side, Mr Kennedy Okwai, the sub county secretary for production appealed to the farmers to preach the gospel of tea growing to others for poverty eradication.
He said the sub county needs to do a lot more to see that other farmers are engaged to ensure massive tea growing besides other food crops.
Similarly, Mr James Odeya, one of the farmers commended the sub county leadership for organizing such a trip saying it has direct bearing on farmers’ willingness to undertake tea growing.
He said it shouldn’t be the last learning trip if farmers are to build on their capacity to manage tea.
Tea project was introduced in Zombo in 2013 by the government of Uganda after the Paramount King of Alur, Phillip Rauni Olarker III in 2012 requested President Museveni to initiate tea growing in Zombo for poverty alleviation.
But the project has since then dragged due to purported mismanagement of funds and politics of intrigue until now that the project is gaining popularity among farmers with the coming of the UTDAL and recommitment of the government and other stakeholders to ensuring success of the project in Zombo.