ZOMBO. The director Edwin Foundation Tea Initiative (EFOTI) Mr Edwin Atukunda Beekunda has challenged political leaders and civil servants in Zombo district to invest in tea growing if they are to have a safe landing after public service.

According to Beekunda, it is incumbent upon the leaders at all levels to tirelessly work towards personal wealth creation so that the people they lead follow suit hence soldering the struggle for poverty alleviation.

Beekunda was on Friday meeting political leaders and civil servants during a courtesy visit to the district headquarters.

“It is only through engaging in profitable economic activities like tea growing that you will be able to secure your retirement package and anything short of that you will retire from the public while hurling curses at the government”, he told the leaders.

He observed with concern that people come from other parts of the country to raise tea nurseries and yet the indigenous are also capable of doing that with the capacity building given by EFOTI.

EFOTI statistics show that currently, there are over 1,000 acres of well-established tea gardens in Zombo but anticipates the acreage to increase to over 2,000 by the end 2021.

“Farmers have opened more tea gardens and with this, I’m sure we are going to have enough tea to sustain the tea factory promised by the government,” he said.

He revealed EFOTI has signed a memorandum of understanding with Bugambe tea factory to sell excess tea green leaves from Zombo tea cooperative society as the government works on modalities to establish a factory that will absorb all the tea produced in Zombo.

Beekunda observed that the current mini tea processing machine fabricated by EFOTI has a lesser capacity to absorb all the tea produced by tea farmers in Zombo.

He said the tea being produced in the Acholi sub region will be sold to the Zombo tea factory since the government shall have established one.

Mr Hassan Ringtho, the Zombo district speaker urged EFOTI to orient the councillors and other leaders on the nitty-gritties of tea growing in a bid for those who have not yet ventured into tea growing to do so.

According to Ringtho, if well streamlined and popularized, tea growing in Zombo will go a long way to spur economic empowerment of the people.

“What we need now is for EFOTI to take the councillors through the genesis and benefits of tea growing but for me I believe it will economically empower the people,” he said.

The Edwin Foundation Tea Initiative Ltd is a private company that deals in tea and fruits nursery establishment, management and research.

Since 2010, expansion of tea activities increased as part of the President's Poverty Eradication Campaign, and this led to the development of the tea strategy to expand tea production, processing and marketing within the old and new growing areas through the provision of tea seedlings and advisory services.

Most of the tea-growing districts are in South Western Uganda (Greater Ankole and Greater Kigezi Sub-regions), a few in Western Uganda (Kyenjojo and Kabarole), Mityana in central Uganda and Zombo in Northern Uganda.