ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes:Agriculture:Farming types in Africa:Tea farming in Zimbabwe
Growing conditions and growing area
- A perennial tree crop grown more on plantation than by individual commercial farmers.
- A region 1 crop in Zimbabwe.
- High rainfall, over 1 000 mm, cool temperature, around 18°C but must be frost-free.
- Grown on mountain slopes with well-drained soils.
- Soils must be acidic.
- Cutting from high-yielding clones planted in nurseries under shade.
- Young plants covered by polythene.
- 18 months later, the young plants are transferred to the fields with 11 000 plants to a hectare.
- Pruning must occur as the plants grow to maintain a one metre-height bush easy to pluck.
- Weeding clears the fields of unnecessary nutrient competitors.
- Plucking is done of two fresh leaves and a bud.
Processing and marketing
- The tea is processed on the farm hence factories are located here.
- Tea is perishable as it loses quality quickly, if not processed immediately after picking.
- It is withering in the factory to remove moisture in a controlled way.
- Then the tea is fermented until it is brownish black.
- It is then fired to dry it.
- Grading and tasting come next.
- Then the tea is packed in foiled packets or in chests, ready for marketing.
- The tea is sold on the home market in shops or overseas to consumers in the UK, Germany, USA and Italy.
- In the Eastern Highlands, one problem has been that of frost destroyeing the bushes in winter.
- Heavy rains cause waterlogging which kills the tea bushes.
- Cyclones destroy the trees through powerful winds which uproot the bushes.
- Drought at times occurs leading to death of the trees through water shortages.
- The local market is small and poor.
- The quality of the tea is not comparable to that from India and Sri Lanka.
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