Ugandan tea exporters mull new markets

A worker at a tea farm in Lugazi. Tea producers in Uganda are struggling to access global markets. FILE PHOTO

What you need to know:

Uganda is the second largest producer and exporter of tea in East Africa.

Uganda Export Promotion Board (UEPB) is looking out for markets which can buy Uganda’s tea directly in the Middle East.

“We have had talks with some buyers from Dubai about taking Uganda’s tea directly but this is still at its infancy stage,” Mr John Lwere, the UEPB export promotion officer said.

Uganda’s effort to export her tea directly to international markets is still facing hurdles as the country’s brand name is taken over by Kenya.
Ugandan traders are disadvantaged because they transport their produce from Uganda to the distant Mombasa auction where tea from most African growers is sold.

Tea producers shun direct exporters and instead deliver most output to the Mombasa auction where the commodity is then re-exported as Kenyan tea. For years, this has limited Uganda’s branded tea from earning a premium price on the commodity she has been growing for over 50 years.
Sharing his ordeal with the Daily Monitor, Mr Nelson Kawalya, one of the exporters, is losing hope.

“It’s becoming very difficult for direct exporters to get enough products to meet our respective orders because producers are all now turning to Mombasa auction”.

Mr Kawalya has been in the business of exporting Uganda’s branded tea to Sudan and the United Kingdom (UK) since 1979 with his company called Hoppers Tea Company Limited.

“We used to export about 40-50 tonnes of tea monthly but now we spend two months without business because we cannot raise the required volumes for the orders,” he lamented, saying those who had been giving them business have resorted to Mombasa auction for the product where they claim there is no competition.

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