Rwanda: Smallholder Farmers Take Over Largest Tea Factory

Rwanda’s Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente on Monday completed the transfer of Mulindi Tea Factory, the country’s largest tea factory to five thousand smallholder farmers in Gicumbi District, northern Rwanda. This move is expected to help farmers in the region and beyond to get more profits from team sales.

Rwanda’s National Agricultural Export Development Board reports that this is the first factory to be fully owned by smallholder farmers. The feat was achieved as owners of the factory The development was achieved after the Wood Foundation Africa and Gatsby Africa transferred their shares in the factory to Gicumbi-based smallholder tea cooperatives.

Founded in 1960, the Mulindi Tea Factory is Rwanda’s oldest and largest factory in terms of tea production and contributes 10% of the country’s total tea export revenue.

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The transfer of ownership to local farmers was done after the owners of the factory who acquired 55% of the company following government privatization in 2012, declared that they had recovered their share capital and they were handing over the business to farmers at no return.

“We are happy that the charitable investors have signed over their shares to us without any profit on their venture after supporting us to get the required capacity. We assure you that the factory’s good performance will be maintained,” said Elysée Ntabwoba, Chairman of COOPTHE Mulindi Board.

In his address, Prime Minister Ngirente tasked farmers to consolidate on the gains made by the previous owners and continue producing quality product.

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“This noble initiative has improved the income, skills, knowledge and livelihoods of smallholder tea farmers of Mulindi region. The Government of Rwanda commends you for all the philanthropic activities in tea business in Rwanda,” he said.

Tea is Rwanda’s top agricultural export revenue earner. In 2021, the country earned more than $96 million from exporting over 35 million kilogrammes of tea compared to over 32 million kilogrammes sold for more than $90 million in 2020.

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