I am on my way to Kinihira to visit Sorwathe tea estate. I have never been there before. Since I do things the traditional way, I need someone to give me directions. There is no better place to stop and ask for directions than the company’s own roadside tea center in Rusiga Sector.
This is my regular stopover joint. I have had countless cups of tea here before. In addition, I have had insightful conversations about the role of tea in promoting Rwanda abroad and transforming rural communities back home. Tea promotes agribusiness, entrepreneurship, exports and tourism, to name but a few.
While visiting Rusizi two years ago, I rolled up my sleeves and tried my hand at tea plucking. Then I went to the factory and converted the green leaves I had harvested into a finished product. At the end of the day, I went home with a packet of self-made tea.
In Rusizi, I visited cooperatives of tea growers affiliated to Shagasha tea factory. I examined the role of this iconic cash crop in improving their standards of living. I left the estate with a deeper appreciation of the beverage that kick-starts every day of my life.
Rwandans started growing tea in 1952. Ever since, the crop’s economic value has grown tremendously. According to the National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB), tea exports generated USD 86.9 million in 2019.
Currently, there are more than 24,000 hectares of tea fields in the western, northern and southern provinces. Rwanda’s tea subsector supports more than 43,000 farmers and 21 cooperatives.
Sorwathe is one of 18 tea factories operating in Rwanda. Founded in 1975, the award-winning factory produces approximately three million kilograms of tea annually.
As mentioned above, I have never been to Sorwathe’s tea estate before. I am looking forward to drawing inspiration from the investment’s success story. This tour will undoubtedly create lasting memories. As usual, I will share my findings with you.
The author is visiting all 30 districts of Rwanda. His tour of Rulindo is sponsored by Ikaze Rwanda Tours and Travel, The Peakspot Lodge, Exposure and Beyond the Gorillas Experiences (BGE).