President Yoweri Museveni has assured tea farmers and processors of access to market and price stability.
Speaking at the opening of the $2 million (about Shs5.2 billion) Kyamuhunga Tea Factory on Tuesday, the President blamed the current fall in prices of tea to the political turmoil that has been experienced in North African countries of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya as well as in the Middle East.
He, however, urged the farmers and the processors not to give up saying he would consider helping them to access the market. “Egypt had the most consumers. The political conflict there is the reason prices are poor in Mombasa. When people are dying and there is no peace, no one can buy. I will go there, maybe I will take you (processors) there and see if we can get the market,” he said.
The President’s remarks came after Eng Sotti Bomukama, the factory’s managing director, decried the fall in prices of processed tea in Mombasa. He said while they expected to sell a kilogramme at $2.6 (about Shs6,786) when they did market research in 2012, they started by selling at $1.9 (about Shs4,959) per kilogramme.
“We are now hovering between $1.4 (about Shs3,654) and $1.5 (about Shs3,915) per kilogramme yet the production costs per kilogramme can go to $1.5,” Eng Bomukama said. He said the unstable power supply which makes them operate on a generator and poor roads are the other challenges. He added that the cost of fertilisers for tea has shot up with the introduction of prices on agriculture in puts. Mr Museveni hailed the owners of the tea factory for investing back home and helping the farmers who have been stuck with excess tea.
“This is a great contribution to the economy. It (establishing factories) is the solution for the educated unemployed youth that I have been talking about…It is very good going back to their home areas and put up investments to help people,” he said.