CCM Central Committee member, Kassim Majaliwa has urged Lushoto residents to engage in tea farming, as Mponde Factory in Bumbuli Council will be revived soon.
The tea factory, whose production ceased in 2013 due to conflicts, was a key market for tea leaves produced by at least 5,000 small farmers in the region.
Mr Majaliwa, who is also the Prime Minister (PM) said this during a campaign rally held in Soni Ward, Bumbuli Constituency, in Lushoto District, while campaigning for CCM presidential flag bearer, Dr John Magufuli, and ward candidates, while Bumbuli Constituency candidate January Makamba passed unopposed.
“I am aware of the suffering experienced by most of the farmers during this production season. I assure you all preparations have been completed for the revival of the factory, ready production,” said Mr Majaliwa.
The PM pointed out that the existing machine in the factory was worn out, and its technology was outdated, so it needed repairs before investors could procure a new modern machine, noting that in the meantime production should continue.
He added that the plant’s business plan had been prepared and presented to the Ministry of Finance and Planning, as a requirement to approve a 4bn/- for maintenance and operations of the factory.
According to the PM, the government is committed to addressing a market challenge, considering that tea production is among the strategic crops, whereby 85 per cent of the produce is sold outside the country.
The remaining 25 per cent is sold to companies in the country. He noted that the Covid-19 outbreak, which had affected some of the tea markets in and outside the country, causing a drop in prices and some companies failing to timely pay farmers.
“Following the drop in prices in the market, the price of green tea leaves produced by smallholder farmers remained at 314/- per 1kg. The effect observed was for the farmers to fail to secure second payment due lack of efficiency of the factory,” he said.
The PM explained that the Tanzania Mercantile Exchange (TMX) Plc in collaboration with the Tea Board of Tanzania (TBT) were finalising procedures of establishing a tea auction in the country whose existence was expected to attract buyers from across the world.
TBT has made effort to find buyers and met with the Pakistani envoy to acquire a list of buyers from the country.
“Establishment of the auction in the country is expected to pave the way for tea producers, including smallholders farmers in increasing production, a move aimed at reducing the payment challenge and promote transparency and boost revenue,” said the PM.
In another development, Mr Majaliwa hinted on the government’s initiative to improve vegetable farming and increase production and sales outside the country.
The move is in line with the CCM Manifesto to increase economic opportunities to the people. He mentioned some of the plans as the construction of industrial packs in Dar es Salaam, Mbeya and Songwe.
He also hinted on the establishment of crop storage and processing centres in Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Geita, Iringa, Kagera, Kigoma, Manyara, Mara, Mbeya, Tabora, Morogoro, Mtwara, Mwanza, Singida, Shinyanga, Songwe, Tanga and Katavi.
He said his office had established a special market which possessed a cold room to store the produce in Lushoto and continued with the construction of water reservoirs for irrigation purposes.
Meanwhile, 7.8bn/- has been released for the implementation of water projects in Lushoto District Council.
Mr Majaliwa appealed to residents during a campaign rally held in Lushoto District on Friday to choose CCM Presidential Candidate, Dr Magufuli, and Mr Shabani Shekilindi, who was vying for a parliamentary position in the constituency and all ward candidates.
The PM said the following water projects had been completed. He mentioned them as Mgwashi (1.5bn/-), Mlola/Lwandai (412m/-), IIrente (195m/-) and Soni/Mkuzu (490m/-).
Others are Vuga (685m/-), Kwalei (521m/-) and Kasoli Mbuzii/Kwangwenda (262m/-) which are in final stages.