BUJUMBURA July 21st (ABP) – The Minister of Environment, Agriculture and Livestock, Mr. Déo Guide Rurema, opened on Wednesday July 20, 2022 in Bujumbura, the works of the 5th African Tea Convention and Exhibition, organized in Burundi from 20 to 22 July 2022, under the theme “Managing for the future: Sustainable tea business practices”.
Before getting to the heart of the matter, Minister Rurema thanked everyone who was present at the meeting, particularly the guests from African countries members of the East African Tea Trade Association (EATTA), buyers, couriers and warehousers. “Your presence confirms our commitment to pursue the common objectives of developing the tea sector with the aim of increasing production and producing quality tea appreciated internationally,” he said.
Mr. Rurema said that, like other African countries, Burundi lives mainly from agriculture. The agricultural sector is of paramount importance for the Burundian economy, thus contributing 39.6% to the gross domestic product (GDP), offering 84% of jobs, providing 84% of the food supply and constituting the main supplier of raw material to industry, he added.
Given that Burundian agriculture has not completely evolved towards market agriculture in previous years, the minister in charge of agriculture has, to that end, indicated that the current legislature is striving to focus its intervention on the six priority areas of the National Development Plan (PND 2018-2027), among others, agriculture and livestock to increase agro-pastoral production, public health, industrialization, youth employment and social protection, socio-economic infrastructure, peace and reconciliation.
According to Minister Rurema, the goal is to achieve a prosperous economy serving the well-being of all in general and to achieve the vision of the Government of Burundi through the President of the Republic, Mr. Evariste Ndayishimiye, summarized in the slogan “every mouth should have something to eat and every pocket, money”. It is for this reason that in the agricultural field, the government of Burundi has taken the initiative to develop all agricultural sectors, including industrial crops, with the aim of significantly increasing production in quantity and quality, said Minister Rurema.
Regarding the tea crop, Minister Rurema said that tea comes second among industrial crops. Tea brings in foreign currency to the country up to 20% but also supports more than 52,000 households who find their means of subsistence through the sale of the green leaf. Tea also provides employment for families living near tea factories and other people indirectly, he said.
He pointed out that regarding this industrial crop, the Burundi government spares no effort to make that crop a real engine of economic growth, through certain actions, namely the production of tea plants with the aim of converting old plantations and to increase the area sown, the subsidy of agricultural inputs to facilitate their access to farmers, the granting of land to the Burundi Tea Authority (OTB) with the aim of making state-owned plantations exploited by cooperatives in order to support them, to name but a few.
Minister Rurema finally commended the holding of the 5th convention which comes at a time when Burundi is making progress in the tea sector even if the government’s objective has not been fully achieved. “We therefore expect, from this framework of exchanges, an improvement in the business climate on the part of the actors in this sector”, estimated Mr. Rurema, adding that the holding of that convention is also an opportunity for exchanges of experiences, to learn from each other and to renew their diplomatic relations.
Mr. Rurema hoped that the meeting will allow Burundian investors to negotiate collaboration agreements, to exchange with their peers from elsewhere on investment opportunities and the development of exchanges of products and equipment in order to promote the development of economic relations between their respective countries because, he insisted, unity is strength.
It is worthy to note that the opening of the works of the 5th African tea convention and exhibition was also attended by certain members of the Burundian parliament, the chairman of EATTA, the managing director of EATTA, the director general of OTB, ambassadors and representatives of diplomatic and consular missions, representatives of EATTA member countries, senior government officials and stakeholders in the tea sector.