The Kawambwa Tea out growers Association has appealed to government to introduce incentives in tea growing to encourage more farmers to sign up.
ZANIS reports that Association Chairperson Andrew Sindazi said growing tea is an expensive undertaking for smallholder farmers, hence the need for government to offer incentives.
Mr. Sindazi observed that despite being a commercial crop, many farmers are discouraged to grow tea owing to lack of capital.
He implored government to urgently consider tea agriculture subsidies to help ramp up green leaf production following the installation of a new tea processing plant.
“Government must consider incentives in tea agriculture just like the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP). Unlike maize, tea has more commercial benefits; so, when government subsidizes the inputs, more farmers within and outside Kawambwa will be encouraged to grow tea,” said Mr. Sindazi.
Mr. Sindazi lamented the lack of growth in the tea value chain since independence.
He said it is unacceptable that despite the tea industry in Zambia starting in 1976, only less than 480 hectares have been grown in Kawambwa.
Mr. Sindazi noted that there is a need to emulate countries like Kenya and Uganda that have grown the tea industry which is contributing to their economies.
Meanwhile, over 600 farmers in Kawambwa District have signed up to participate in the tea out-grower scheme.