UNCERTIFIED tea produced by indigenous farmers from Manicaland has hit hard times on the global market where consumers are now demanding certified tea from source markets.
Tea Commodity Association (TCA) national chairperson Patrick Chikumba told NewsDay early this week that there had been a plunge in tea sales from the country as the markets now required standardised tea products to curb the outbreak of diseases.
“Our sales are currently down because most people in our traditional markets now want certified tea,” he said.
“So we are currently training farmers to grow high quality tea, which is then certified before export.”
He said the association had since launched training programme to enable farmers to produce certified tea which meets international standards.
“We have been made to understand that after 2015, we will not be able to sell tea without the necessary certification,” he said.
Chikumba, however, expressed concern over the current tea prices, which he said made it difficult for growers to break even.
He said buyers were offering $1,50 per kg which meant that a farmer who produced 600kg of tea would pocket a meagre $400 a month.
TCA provincial chairperson for Manicaland, Charles Sanhanga, said having their tea certified was the best step forward because it could easily find takers.
“Certification is the way to go because certified tea is guaranteed of a market and good prices compared to uncertified tea,” he said.
He said before one’s tea was certified, an inspection process was carried out to establish if it was produced in hygienic and environment friendly manner.
Tea farmer Rudo Chimunda said: “We are hoping that soon we will have our products certified so that we can sell them at competitive prices that will help us remain in business.”