Tea growing in Rwanda started around 1952 and since then tea growing has increased in importance to the economy. Tea growing currently ranks as the second largest traditional export crop in Rwanda. Rwanda’s tea marketing system continues to be dominated by state owned companies.

Tea growing
Tea is cultivated mainly on large plantations, which are owned and managed by about a dozen tea factories that process green tea into black tea. The area under tea production is about 15,000ha. There are relatively small amounts of tea produced by tea cooperatives and private growers which are sold to the tea factories.

The tea factories include the following:

  • Rwanda Mountain Tea
  • Kitabi Tea Factory
  • Mata Tea Factory
  • Gisakura Tea Factory
  • Mulindi

The tea production in Rwanda has increased from 5,414 tons in 1995   to over 23,000 tons in by 2010.

Key tea growing areas
The main tea producing areas include the following:

  • Kibuye
  • Rubavu
  • Gikongoro
  • Cyangugu
  • Byumba
  • Butera
  • Gicumbi
  • Nyaruguru
  • Rusizi
  • Musanze
  • Gisakula
  • Rubaya
  • Nyamasheke

Uses of tea in Rwanda
The uses of tea in Rwanda include the following:

  • Source of income to the farmers and revenue to the country.
  • The tea leaves can be used to make animal feeds.
  • For an extra caffeine boost in the body.
  • Provides antioxidants to delicate skin.
  • Tea is used to make tea leaves which are make tea beverages.
  • Tea is used as hair conditioner in form of shampoo.

The challenges of growing tea include the following

  • Inadequate access to credit due to the demands for collateral from banks and the still unclear situation of micro-finance institutions.
  • Insufficient access to extension and advisory services.
  • Heavy burden of domestic work.
  • Lack of control over household income for married women even though they carry out most of the work.
  • High costs of transport
  • Under development of rural areas increases the costs of operation.
  • Tea yields are low compared to other tea producing countries.
  • Inadequate update research.
  • Rwanda is a high cost producer