The Tea Directorate has formed a task force to spearhead value addition and finance Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to enable them get direct access to export market.
The Committee on Establishment of a Common User Blending and Packaging Facility (CUF) formed in November last year is expected to hand in its report after three months.
The facility will help SMEs that do not have the financial muscle to put up their own plant access a common user unit to enable them blend and package tea for export.
“The establishment of a common user facility will help in boosting international trade and help small-scale tea traders to carry out value addition on their merchandise,” said Edward Mudibo, the chairman of the committee.
The core mandate of the committee is to actualise the tea industry task force report of 2016 that called for speedy implementation of the common-user facility to support SMEs in value addition.
“We shall review the proposal for establishing the CUF and make practical recommendation on the implementation framework as part of our terms of reference,” he said.
Other tasks include determining a suitable funding model for the CUF, propose incentives that can attract youth to engage in value addition and suggest the location and management structures for the CUF.
Currently, multinationals with financial muscle export up to 90 per cent of the total tea volumes produced in the country while the small traders only manage to sell the remaining 10 per cent outside the country.
Last year, the directorate signed a memorandum of understanding with Export promotion Council (EPC) to give SMEs expert coaching on accessing the export markets and build their capacity and knowledge on making international enquiries from overseas customers.
The country exports bulk tea to Egypt, UK, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Sudan, Yemen and U.A.E. The Tea Directorate is currently scouting for new markets.