Nelly Bassily | July 18, 2011
Tea is an important cash crop not only for Burundi but for other East African countries such as Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia. But tea producers, like those in the story from Burundi, can sometimes face harsh working conditions and earn very little money. But when more than one buyer competes to buy their crop, producers can benefit from higher prices.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, world tea production reached over 4.73 million tons in 2008. The largest producers of tea are the People’s Republic of China, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, and Turkey. Globally, more tea is drunk that any other beverage.
Here’s more information on Burundi’s tea producers and the controversy about the private buyer (Prothem) vs. the state-run buyer (Office du Thé Burundais): (In French only)
-Burundi : Thé: la feuille de la discord: http://www.syfia-grands-lacs.info/index.php?view=articles&action=voir&idArticle=2130
-Burundi : Concurrence déloyale dans le secteur du thé? : http://www.legriot.info/2784-burundi-concurrence-deloyale-dans-le-secteur-du-the/
Here are other stories related to tea from Kenya:
Farmers protest over uncollected tea: http://allafrica.com/stories/201107010052.html
Bad weather to keep tea earnings down: http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/Bad+weather+to+keep+tea+earnings+down/-/539552/1196336/-/113lwpn/-/
A tea convention is set to take place July 20-23 in Kenya and will bring together tea producers, buyers, packers and warehouse operators. Read this article for more information about this convention:
Tea producers to meet over output: http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/220/760060
Here’s a story about activists lobbying African governments to support farmers who grow staple foods such as grains, rice and beans, rather than cash crops like tea, cocoa or coffee: http://panos.org.uk/features/from-famine-to-feast/
Relying solely on a cash crop like tea can make farmers vulnerable. Related to this issue, you can read the following Farm Radio International script called “The importance of Security Crops”.
This script tells the story of Suad and Salma. Both sisters are hardworking farmers, but choose to plant different crops. While Salma planted only coffee, Suad was more cautious. We learn the steps Suad took to diversify her crops, and how “security crops” provided for her family when tragedy struck.
Do you know of a real Suad in your community? Why not tell her story and how she managed to strike a balance between cash crops and staple crops? Share the story with your listeners and us! Email it to us: email@example.com
Finally, Farm Radio Weekly recently produced a story on tea co-operatives: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/06/27/rwanda-tea-co-operatives-promote-unity-ifad/