Rwanda, Unilever Tea Rwanda, and The Wood Foundation Africa expand Nyaruguru tea project

The Government of Rwanda, Unilever Tea Rwanda and The Wood Foundation Africa (TWFA) has signed an agreement for a second phase of the Nyaruguru tea project which will include an additional 3,000 hectares of smallholder catchment area and tea processing factory.

The development comes after the success of the first phase of the project which was completed ahead of schedule, with the farmers of Nyaruguru District showing they can effectively plant to scale and produce high-quality tea.

The expansion to a 6,400-hectare smallholder catchment will include parts of Busanze, as well as Kibeho, Munini, Mata, and Cyahinda sectors in Nyaruguru District in the Southern Province.

This will be supported by a dedicated farmer services company which has an existing 800-hectare commercial plantation feeding into the processing factory operated by Unilever Tea Rwanda.

The Fast Moving Consumer Goods giant, Uniliver with direct access to international markets together with the Services Company of Nyaruguru, originally set up by the Wood Foundation Africa, with co-financing from UK Aid and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation enable the farmers to get the best possible yields.

The Nyaruguru tea project has not only been the largest greenfield tea project in Africa, but also unique in that smallholder farmers represent the majority of the production process.

The second phase of the project will be fully financed by the Government of Rwanda, Unilever Tea Rwanda and The Wood Foundation Africa and includes US$20 million of support for farmer development.  Thousands of more farmers and their families will be able to transform their lives by growing high-quality tea in an area where they were previously restricted to grow high-value crops due to the acidic nature of the soils.

Commenting on the project, Hon. Minister Gérardine Mukeshimana; the Minister of Agriculture said that: “Nyaruguru tea project is expected to positively impact the livelihood of farmers by increasing their income. Moreover, the project will further contribute to the growth of tea exports, which are expected to generate US$209 Million by 2024. This project is the best investment to add value to the acidic soils.”

Christian Byron, Unilever’s Africa Vice President for Supply Chain added: “This project shows the power of partnership as we can both grow great tea in Rwanda for our brands and transform the lives of thousands of farmers.  There is no better endorsement for the efforts of the Rwandan Government, The Wood Foundation Africa, Nyaruguru farmers and hard work of our staff than to see this expansion.”

Sir Ian Wood, the Chairman of TWFA also commented that: “This is an ambitious and exciting development for the country and builds upon the already successful relationship we have with both Unilever and the Government of Rwanda.  Ultimately, this is all about the smallholder tea farmer, helping them to retain and build value on their land by creating a very long-term biological asset while ensuring a premium market is in place for quality green leaf.  This investment will create thousands of jobs and provide income for generations.  The impact will be transformational and has already been recognized by the recent award of Nyaruguru as a top-performing District.”

The Nyaruguru Phase I tea project broke ground in 2017 and it consists of a 3,400-hectare smallholder catchment, plus an 800-hectare commercial tea plantation with one processing factory. Phase II will see the project expand to have a combined 6,400 hectares for smallholder tea out-growers and two processing factories.

Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care, and Foods & Refreshment products, with sales in over 190 countries, and is also the world’s largest tea business with leading brands such as Lipton Yellow Label, PG Tips, Brooke Bond Red Label and many others. 

The Wood Foundation Africa is a Scottish-registered organization that focuses on improving the livelihoods of farmers in Africa through venture philanthropy. (End).

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