Helping farmers in Tanzania benefit from boosting tea production

The average income of tea farmers in Mufindi, Tanzania rose by 56% over the past four years, enabling better living conditions for 1400 small scale farmers.

The project, called he Mufindi Out-Growers (MOG) project by Unilever Tea Tanzania Limited (UTT) and IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative started with 69 farmers, but since then grew to about 1,400. It works in a contract farming model, where the company provides all the needed inputs like seedlings, fertilisers and herbicides to the farmers at zero-interest loans, and services of extension officers that are on UTT’s payroll, on the condition that the farmers will sell their produce to the company. Additonally, the company trains farmers through demonstration farms, called Mashamba Darasa (Farmer Field School), to diversify their income source, while also discussing ways to improve tea production.

The project resulted in increase in earnings, which is primarily based on the farmers’ ability to harvest better quality tea leaves twice a month, instead of once as they did before the project. Moreover, to motivate the farmers further UTT has initiated a bonus, which is awarded to farmers based on the quality of their tea leaves. In this way, for example in 2017 a farmer  got up to TZS 150 (€0.057) more per kilogram of the best tea leaves they sold as qulity bonus, compared to a farmer with minimum quality who received TZS 75 (€0.028) per kilogram.

This project enabled many small-scale farmers to better their living conditions. Ms Shida Mahenge of Ikwega Village, one of the small-scale farmers shared her experience.Within the four years of the MOG project, she managed to increase her farm with 4 acres growing to 17 acres and she expects to further increase to 21 acres next year.

Due to the project and the rising tea prices, Ms Mahenge’s income has gone up, which gave her the ability to transfer her children from a public to an English medium school. Nonetheless, she was not the only one to benefited from the project, as her fellow farmer, Mr Josephat Msakwa was able to purchase a car, as well as others who now have the ability to pay school fees and eat balanced diets.

The Mufindi Out-Growers project was created in 2014 to boost small-scale farmers’ tea production across areas surrounding UTT. The project covers 19 villages of 1142 hectares and is supervised by 13 different people within the company, also aiming to raise the financial status of Mufindi small scale farmers.