ZOMBO. The leaders in Zombo district have asked the government to construct tea processing factory in the area.

Presenting the status of tea project in Zombo district during the annual regional National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) review meeting at Heritage courts in Arua town on Tuesday, Dr Walter Kumakech, the production officer said they have tea that needs a processing factory in place.

 He said, tea has ever been established in Zombo district but because of the political turmoil of the 70s, the project collapsed and the factory was never constructed as the tea plantation were also abandoned.

“We have a tea plantation that was abandoned in the 70s. We looked for them, it’s about 17 acres and we are now trying to rehabilitate the tea project in Zombo”, he said.

 He added “We have already started processing tea locally and that is why we are advocating for tea, but farmers are asking us, where is the factory? If someone sees a factory in place, it really motivates us and someone can easily get into the business of tea growing”.

 He said, if a factory with a single line can be constructed, it will help them not only in consuming the tea they have, but it will also create demand and help as a mobilization tool for other farmers because many of the farmers that we have now don’t want to go into the tea project because of the experience they had.

He added that the performance of tea project in Zombo has been poor with a lot of investigation being done by the government, IGG and Auditor General’s office but attributed the poor performance of tea project to lack of herbicides, fertilizers and late delivery of tea seedlings by NAADs.

 Ms Rose Ayikoru a board member in NAADs secretariat said in last year’s review meeting, they suggested that, there should be negotiations with the neighbouring factories so that the tea in Zombo is not wasted or taken to DR Congo for processing.

“We made this resolution but nothing has been done. Can we do something in our reporting on the tea of Zombo because the 1000 acres of tea is not a joke. The tea can still be taken and processed in the neighbouring districts which have the factory. I think our neighbours are just in Bunyoro and get our tea processed so that we don’t lose it out”, she said.

She said last time they promised as the secretariat that they shall provide herbicides and fertilizers to the farmers but the budget cut affected process.

“Since the budget cut affected us, we agreed that let the farmers first receive the seedlings and we continue then if we get improvement on our budget, the fertilizers, herbicides and the rest will be catered for. I am one of the persons who were much affected but it was beyond us”, Ayikoru explained.

Mr Charles Aben the representative of the executive director at NAADs secretariat said the tea in Zombo is on the upward improvement but at the beginning, there has been a lot of problems.

“We know there are some improvements going on but we would like them to work harder to ensure that we have critical mass of tea that can attract the factory. We are told that, a single line factory needs 4000 acres but our reports from Zombo is still at 1000acres so the tea will continue to be ready and ready for over the long time and there is no processing factory because you can’t run a single line factory with 1000 acres of tea,” he said.

“So what we need to do is to sit down on the drawing board again and see how fast we can reach the acreage that is required. Mind you this is a private sector and the people of the private sector are not really kin to put their machinery where production is not adequate to run the machinery, so we need to look into that,” he added.