Tanganda Tea to re-introduce irrigation to ensure sustainable production


Itai Ndongwe

HARARE – Tanganda Tea is taking a proactive approach to ensuring the sustainability of its tea production, with plans to re-introduce irrigation as the company has secured a sustainable power supply from its renewable energy.

Tea production requires consistent and timely irrigation for optimal growth and yield, and the company has been using ZESA electricity and generators to irrigate tea, which they considered unfeasible because traditional methods such as diesel generators for powering irrigation pumps can be expensive, especially with fluctuating fuel prices, and fossil fuel-based power generation contributes to GHG emissions.

Tanganda has invested in green energy and continues to do so through the installation of three independent battery-supported solar energy plants on three of its five estates, with a total maximum production capacity of 4.4 MW, consisting of Ratelshoek estate 1.8MW, Jersey estate 1.4MW, and Tingamira estate 1.2MW.
With such capacity, the company sees it as a feasible option to reintroduce irrigation in tea production since a steady power source ensures that irrigation systems run consistently, preventing crop disruption.
Tanganda CEO Timothy Fennell told  FinX, “As we now have some big solar projects and we now have the power at an affordable rate, we are planning to re-introduce irrigation into tea production. He was speaking on the sidelines of the company’s AGM on Thursday.
‘We have got another three projects that we are going to focus on, and we are going to do them this year. Currently, we have an average of 5 MW up and running, and we will likely add another 2.5 MW to that in the three sites.”
The irrigation project is still ongoing, as the company has spent millions of dollars on irrigation, including dams, reservoirs, and pumps. Tanganda has invested US$4 million in irrigation over the last two to three years, while an average of US$8 million has been put in solar.
Tanganda is widening its export market, which will allow it to hedge against global price changes and competition from other suppliers such as Peru and Mexico.”We are busy opening markets into China, so that we should not bump into last year where we had tough competition in Europe from Peru and Mexico. We will be able to divert certain percentage of crops to China to avoid going into a depressed market.”
According to the company’s financial statements for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2023, Tanganda’s bulk tea production fell by 9 percent to 7 994 tonnes from 8 670 tonnes the previous season due to the late onset of the rains and their uneven distribution, resulting in a 12 percent decline in bulk tea exports compared to the previous fiscal year.

Avocado exports of 2 148 tonnes were 50% lower than the previous year’s 4 321 tonnes, owing to the biannual bearing phenomena and the impact of heavy trimming on 55 hectares of mature trees to revitalise them.

During the fiscal year, 44 additional hectares of avocado plantation were established, bringing the total hectares under avocado to 541 hectares. Coffee production for the period under review was 87 tonnes, 28 percent higher than the 68 tonnes achieved in the previous season, while packed tea sales volumes fell by 6 percent to 1, 873 tonnes.

The 6% decrease in packaged tea sales volumes from 1 994 tonnes in the previous year to 1 873 tonnes sold this fiscal year was mostly due to logistical worldwide issues in procuring ingredients. Plans are in place to clear unfilled orders, which will result in higher volumes for its brands in the coming year.

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