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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