A tea with a uniquely South African taste will be produced in Limpopo before the end of the year, agriculture minister Lulama Xingwana announced at a land reform imbizo near Thohoyandou recently. The homegrown tea is expected to be produced on the Tshivhase and Mukumbani tea estates in the Vhembe district. The department took over the running of these farms after commercial tea producer Sapekoe announced the retrenchment of over 3 000 workers from four estates in the province in late 2004. Sapekoe said it was no longer profitable to produce black tea locally. The minister is, however, confident that government will make a success of the project. “I have been assured by the Limpopo province and its leadership that a tea with a South African taste will be launched by 1 November. South Africans will come to know and witness a proudly South African tea,” she said. Is part of the government’s turnaround strategy for the Vhembe estates, ownership had cascaded to the community. Plot owners had been given 10ha of land each by the traditional council in the form of rental or lease for a number of agreed years. Management staff had been recruited since September 2006 and plot owners had hired their own workers at agreed rates. The minister noted that Limpopo’s agriculture department and its partners, including MANFerrostaal SA, had agreed that the tea estates would be supported until only the end of March 2008. “Thereafter, the project will be self-sustaining if the technology acquisition, quality experts and management regime, farmer selection criteria and good production practices are implemented.” The department had also agreed to acquire the skills of Kenyan experts to revamp the province’s tea industry and introduce value-added technology. “At the same time the province will develop its own expertise by sending young farmers and qualified science graduates to do additional tertiary training at Kenyan tea institutions,” Xingwana said. – BuaNews
A tea with a uniquely South African taste will be produced in Limpopo before the end of the year, agriculture minister Lulama Xingwana announced at a land reform imbizo near Thohoyandou recently.
Issue date 4 May 2007
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