Foundation for use of new tea varieties

CHINGAZI—Cost of production is high

Representatives of Tea Research Foundation of Central Africa (TRFCA) have reiterated the need for growers to adopt new varieties to increase production and maximise export earnings from the crop.

During a recent field day, TRFCA Chief Research Scientist Nicholas Mphangwe said the 400 series varieties that the foundation has bred over the years are of quality, high yielding and tolerate to extreme weather conditions.

The latest cultivars include PC401, PC402, PC403, and PC404.


“These are varieties that, from our research experiments, have shown huge potential for high yield and quality. We are also aware of the climatic conditions that are prevailing and these materials can withstand that. We were discussing with the growers on selection methods, introduction of new bio-technological approaches to selection as well as being environment friendly.

“We were talking about use of biodegradable pots which will not require any means of disposal because the pot will be planted together with the plant itself. So these varieties were released in 2020 and the industry is about to start taking them up. Because of the economic challenges there is some sort of drawback,” Mphangwe said.

He added that the industry could significantly grow if more land was allocated to production of the crop than the current state.


One of the small-scale farmers from Sukambiza Association Trust, Austin Changazi, said farmers appreciate the new varieties but are constrained due to their high cost.

“We have already seen some good advantages of the new varieties because, initially, when we were growing the tea that was planted in 1965, our yields were only 8,000 kilogrammes (kg) per hectare but using these latest clones we have seen that we are getting up to 18,000 kg per hectare.

“But these new clones are expensive and you need a lot of them, like per hectare you need 11,000 plants, while with the old plants, we only used to plant 6,000. Also the cost of production, in terms of the fertilisers is going up against declining prices on the international market,” Chingazi said.

In a recent interview, National Smallholder Tea Growers Association Chairperson Princewell Pendame said challenges impacting smallholders include low farm gate prices, poor extension services, limited market channels and poor access to credit and technology.

“There is a pressing need to strengthen smallholders’ business ecosystems. If not well protected and supported, tea smallholder growers can suffer the most,” he advised, adding: “We need to do things differently, embrace new and innovative approaches and move to action.”

Currently, the crop contributes nine percent to the country’s total export earnings.

Facebook Notice for EU! You need to login to view and post FB Comments!
Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker