Tea farmers increase production

HARARE - The Honde Valley Tea Growers Association (HVTGA) whose 1056 members recently attained the 2015 UTZ and Rainforest Alliance certification, in 2014 reported a 112 percent increase in annual production in comparison with 2013 volumes.

During the same period certification has also enhanced the quality of the product which resulted in a 357 percent increase in annual income for the smallholder tea farmers.

The internationally-recognised UTZ and Rainforest Alliance certification programmes require that farmers implement international best practices.

The programmes create opportunities for farmers to grow better crops, ensure sustainable livelihoods, safeguard the environment and conserve biodiversity by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behaviour.

Members of the HVTGA received certification through a training and capacity building programme that was implemented by the Netherlands Development Organisation(SNV) in collaboration with the Honde Valley Smallholder Development Company as part of the Danida-funded Rural Agriculture Revitalisation Project (RARP).

In an interview on the sidelines of the certification ceremony recently, Cloffas Nyagumbo, SNV horticulture specialist said: “Rainforest Alliance and UTZ certifications have become a necessity for securing global markets as the biggest international tea buyers have committed to tackling climate change by only buying products that come from sustainable farms. The certification therefore ensures economic inclusion and access to global markets for Zimbabwean smallholder farmers.”

He said that certification was generally considered to be unattainable for smallholder farmers and the impact of the Honde valley initiative demonstrates that with the right support mechanisms, smallholder farmers can become players in the global economy and increase household incomes.

Addressing farmers and stakeholders at the certification event, HVTGA chairman Stanely Mwatsiya said they have been given a chance to shine.

“The improved farming methods required by this certification have placed us on a better financial footing as a community. This is because we have experienced an increase in production volumes and we now get a better price as the methods yield a better quality of the product.

“In 2014, which was the first year of certification, our association bought two tractors, we improved our loan repayments and our members are now enjoying better incomes,” said Mwatsiya.

This is the second year that smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe have attained the prestigious certification. In 2014, 514 smallholder farmers were accredited for the first time; prior to that only large scale plantations and commercial farmers achieved the Rainforest Alliance and UTZ Certifications.

Since 2006, SNV has worked with tea farmers in Honde Valley on various initiatives including assessment studies of tea, coffee and banana value chains in order to provide solutions to challenges and create opportunities for the smallholder farmers.

SNV is an international development organisation which currently works in 38 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

The organisation contributes to development by strengthening the capacities of local communities through provision of advisory services, project implementation and, facilitating knowledge development and advocacy at national and international levels.

Comments (1)

thats a good move for the people of Honde valley its time for you to shine

RICHARD NSUKWINI - 19 November 2015

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