Mpanga Growers Tea Factory Ltd (MGTF) is a public limited company owned entirely by smallholder farmers. Starting life as Uganda Tea Growers Corporation, the Government-owned company worked with the European Union to help empower the farmers towards self-sufficiency.
Mpanga's first Shared Interest loan enabled the co-operative to purchase the Kasunga tea estate, which also includes a training centre. More recently, they took out a loan to help purchase the fertiliser which is vital to their productivity. The increasing cost of fertiliser and interest rates on commercial loans made Shared Interest their first port of call. It is anticipated that over 1,000 people will directly benefit from this loan as the annual earnings of the farmers increase in line with the yield and the quality of the green leaf tea. Improving the quality of the green tea will increase the average auction price by over 10%.
Uganda produces only 1% of the world's tea so farmers need to ensure high quality in order to be able to compete effectively. After plucking the fresh green tea, farmers take it to be weighed, and then it is taken to the Mpanga factory to be processed into black tea. As farmers are paid according to the weight of their tea, Mpanga has recently invested in technology which traces the green leaves right back to individual farms to ensure accurate payment.
Due to Mpanga being an important employer in the community, greater yields mean more job opportunities. Mpanga puts its Fairtrade Premium back into the local area to improve infrastructure, and education through the purchase of learning materials for schools.
Mpanga's General Manager Rogers Siima said: "Shared Interest has provided finance to Mpanga when most needed and when it is difficult to obtain financing from other lending institutions."