History of smallholder tea growing
Tea was first planted in Tanzania in 1902, when German settlers introduced the crop. After the Second World War the British took over and increased the tea production. Since the independence of Tanzania in 1961, the smallholders play an important role in the agricultural sector. During the early eighties they accounted for about a quarter of Tanzania's tea production. But in these same years there were numerous signs of distress in the smallholder sector. Contributing to the decline were low prices, late payments by the Tea Authority and old and inefficient processing factories.
The consequences of the decline became visible in the nineties. Smallholders share dropped below ten percent and by 1998 it fell to five percent. These bad circumstances led to a growing dissatisfaction among the farmers. The government decided to take measures against the malaise in the industry. They encouraged the smallholders to form associations and a governmental organization was set up to help them do this.
Eleven smallholder tea growers associations were set up as a result. The RSTGA is one of them. Together with big farmers and big tea estates, the associations account for a tea production of 25.000 MT a year.
Next to Kenya, Uganda and Malawi this makes Tanzania one of the biggest tea producers in Africa.