Nature-based Tea production solutions

By Admin
4 Min Read

Uganda’s tea industry is headed for a boost following the launch of a project targeted at doubling the annual yield of tea to 4 million metric tons. The five-year research project dubbed Nabs4tea (Nature-based solutions for tea production) will be jointly done by Makerere University and Rwebitaba ZARDI of the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO). Other partners include Aarhus University Denmark, Uganda Tea Association and Kickstart International.

Launching the project during the inception meeting at Makerere University on 16th January 2024, the MUK Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe commended the partnership of NARO with Makerere and called on the project team to ensure that they meet the needs of the local tea industry players. He said that research and academia needed to be intentionally responsive to the needs of taxpayers who support agencies like NARO and Makerere.
He called on the project team to guide Uganda in making the most of its capacity in organic farming.

“I understand that Uganda is the first in organic farming in Africa and only second to India in the world. How can we make the most of that position especially to get great prices to our tea farmers? Research and can help us in this area,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the NARO Director General, Dr. Kassim Sadiq said that he was glad that the research focus had been broadened from only breeding to cover other issues in production like soil quality. Dr. Kassim said that research work needed to comprehensively cover all the areas needed for the economic production of a commodity like tea including the market. He commended the partnership between Makerere University and NARO regarding the project.

Dr. Emmanuel Arthur, the Principal Investigator of the project said that the project was timely since tea was a leading export crop for Uganda and the next highly consumed beverage worldwide after water. Dr. Emmanuel will be assisted by Dr. Alex Nimusiima of Makerere University and Dr. Robooni Tumuhimbise the Director of Research NARL Kawanda.
Speaking on the project, Dr. Tumuhimbise said that the project would seek to roll out solutions that are, nature-based, climate-smart and affordable to farmers and other players in the tea industry. He said that he hoped that such solutions coupled with other interventions in the tea industry would lift the volumes of the tea produced in Uganda from two metric tons per hectare annually towards a full potential of six metric tons per hectare.

According to the project literature, the project will identify climate-resilient tea varieties as well as work on soils and irrigation and identify export market strategies for the tea thus produced to ensure environmental and economic sustainability in the industry. The team also toured the fields and facilities at Rwebitaba Tea Research Center which is home to the nation’s sole Tea Gene Bank.

As part of capacity building, five Master of Science students and another five PhD students will be sponsored as they undertake research work on the five work packages of the project.

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