Home Institution

Boston College

Publication Date

Spring 2016

Program Name

Tanzania: Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology


Tracing the commodity chain of tea from leaf to cup is a complex process that involves many actors at the production, distribution, processing and consumption levels. This study focuses on the regional tea commodity chain in the village of Sagara in the West Usambara Mountains of Tanzania in order to help explain the change in livelihood of tea as a cash crop. Semi-structured interviews with tea farmers were used to gain perspective on the nuances of the regional tea commodity chain at the production level. Several external actors, including Tanzania Smallholder Tea Development Agency (TSHTDA) and the Tea Research Institute of Tanzania (TRIT) were analyzed in addition to a regional tea-processing factory, Herkulu Estates Ltd., to capture the interactions among local actors and examine how the tea industry functions in Sagara village. It was found that the production of tea in Sagara among smallholder farmers has decreased due to the lack of market access for green leaf product. The closure of the Mponde Tea Factory, coupled with the low capacity of the only other regional factory, Herkulu Estates Ltd., leaves farmers with limited markets for tea crop. Assistance from external organizations, like NGOs and government agencies, does not directly address these market failures, but rather helps farmers expand tea production by providing inputs like fertilizers and herbicides, and providing access to new seedlings from tea nurseries. In the regional tea industry, this assistance does not align with farmers’ current needs because there are no opportunities for these inputs to become lucrative.


Agricultural and Resource Economics | Finance | Growth and Development | Organization Development | Regional Economics


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