Tanzania tea farmers start own bank

MARA, Tanzania  - The Tarime District Tea Growers Association (Tatega) plans to establish a community bank that would improve the livelihood of people in the area through the provision of agricultural loans. 

Speaking to the East African Business Week on phone, the Tatega Secretary General, Mr. Chacha Kisiri, said once established the bank would rid the people of poverty.

“We intend to establish the community bank that would provide affordable services to all people and enable them get agricultural loans for development,” Kisiri said. 

He said they will soon start procedures with the Bank of Tanzania to seek for a banking licence. 

“If all things go well, we expect to establish our bank next year with two branches at Sirari and Nyamongo areas,” he said. 

Tarime District has a favourable climate which has not been fully used due to lack of farming inputs.

“We want to use the bank as a source of loans which would enable us to benefit more from the climate here particularly in agricultural activities,” he said. 

For his part, the Association Chairman, Mr. Stanslaus Sabure, said they have already forwarded their proposals to the government and various farmers’ associations within the district. 

“We have already talked to district commissioner, farmers and other stakeholders who have given us a go ahead,” Sabure said.

The Director General of Tanzania Small Holders Tea Development Agency, Mr. Mustafa Umande was recently quoted as saying, nearly 500 farmers have started tea farming in various parts of Tarime and the number is expected to increase sharply following the availability of the tea processing factory.

“The factory is now ready for use. We urge people to take to tea farming because the market is now available,” he said. According to him, there are over 60 hectares of tea farms whose leaves are mature for the plucking (harvesting) in the area.

“Our target is to have 500 hectares come 2015, that will meet the demand of the factory. There are several tea growing districts but Tarime is now our priority,” the director general said.

According to Tanzania Coffee Board (TCB), introduction of tea as an additional cash crop in Tarime is seen by the majority as a good step that might help to end the illegal cultivation of bhang in the area. 

Some of the targeted villages are those notorious for cultivating bhang in the district that is known for frequent clan clashes, something which triggered the formation of a special police zone in the area. 

Much effort will now be directed towards equipping farmers and extension officers with tea growing skills, in a bid to expand production of the cash crop in almost the entire district that also leads in coffee production in Mara Region.