April 20, 2024

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Gicumbi tea growers to adopt organic farming

TAN Reporter

Tea farmers in Gicumbi District have decided to start using organic fertilizers after learning from their counterparts in Nyabihu and Rutsiro Districts. This decision came after a field visit organized by the Farmer Field Visit initiative under the Green Gicumbi Project, which took place last week in the respective districts.

In the past, tea in Gicumbi was typically planted in swamps. However, with the support of the Green Gicumbi Project, some farmers have started shifting to hillsides for plantation. As a result, they need more knowledge on how to care for their plantations to increase productivity, according to Theogene Ntakirutimana, the Green Gicumbi project watershed protection specialist.

During the field visit, the director of the Nyabihu tea factory, Mungwakuzwe Yves, welcomed the Gicumbi tea growers and explained that growing tea on hillsides is better for agriculture that can adapt to climate change.

He said “Swamps are often damaged by floods, and heavy rain can also damage tea in these areas. Growing tea on hillsides helps hold the soil and prevents erosion.”

The Nyabihu tea factory and the farmers it works with have over 1500 hectares of tea plantations, with about 300 hectares in wetlands. On the other hand, Rutsiro tea growers use hillsides and have already adopted the use of organic fertilizers. They shared the benefits of this practice with their colleagues from Gicumbi.

Uwamariya Pelagie, who works in Mushubati Sector of Rutsiro District, explained that organic manure helps increase productivity more than mineral fertilizers. Currently, they are able to produce 1.2 million metric tonnes per hectare, compared to the previous 300 metric tonnes.

Gicumbi tea growers were inspired by their visit. “We used to only use mineral fertilizers, but we have learned that compost makes tea more productive and valuable. We are going to try it,” said Mpagazehe Theoneste of COOPTHE Mulindi. Kayitesi Jeannette, a tea farmer in Gicumbi, added, “We came to learn from our fellow farmers who are doing better than us. We saw their good practices in fighting soil erosion and agroforestry, and we want to do the same.” She also emphasized that organic farming is more valuable in the international market.

Overall, the Gicumbi tea farmers are excited to adopt organic fertilizers and learn from the successful practices of their colleagues. They believe this change will lead to increased productivity and better quality tea.

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