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How is Tanzanian Kilimanjaro Specialty Tea doing during covid?

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With covid 19 still ruling the world. it is good to see nog every country is affected in the worst possible way. Bente from Tanzanian Kilimanjaro Specialty Tea says ‘Covid has been relatively mild in Tanzania.’

How are you coping with covid 19 in Tanzania?
Covid has been mild on us! Really nowhere near to what was predicted for Africa. It’s also unlikely to still happen that way, as we have had no lockdown. Schools/Colleges/Universities have been closed, but are open again! So I am confident that we are ‘good’.

What do you normally do when it comes to the production of tea at this time of the year?
It’s our Winter now, the coldest month of the year. We are plucking still, only half of what it was in May. We have started shading a small area to try Matcha, which will come soon.

How does covid 19 influence your tea making process?
My first reaction was to prune the trees all down and close the entire tea operation. I thought, like the rest of the world, that we would have a lockdown. But then we luckily did not and so we continued to work and make tea, just with a lot of precautions like masks, gloves and distancing.

How does it influence your business?
Well not too much internationally! But the shipping got more difficult and expensive,  as there are no planes coming (though now a few do come). Of course the local sales are down to 0 as there are no tourists, who are the main buyers or consumers in the hotels. Tanzanians are ‘Chai’ drinkers, so speciality tea is not their kind of tea.

How do you cope with the current state of world economics?
I am sorry for everyone in tourism, none of them have a job anymore. That’s quite a disaster. We also have a small lodge on the farm, which was given up by the tenants in April upon the onset of lockdowns. We now have to think of what to do with it ourselves. So on the tourism side of things it’s a total disaster. Luckily people keep on drinking coffee and tea!

Can your business survive?
We are a third depending on income through tourism. We are lucky that we are still having an income from coffee and tea (although tea is an extremely small portion). We will survive with tough money saving measures. We will not lay off permanent staff, but they will have to be flexible and work in every department. For example our coffee/tea tour guide is currently helping out with keeping the garden clean. My tea staff helps out in the coffee factory the days we are not processing tea. I have an excellent and dedicated team, we are all ready to make it happen!

Read Bente’s previous post: https://www.storiesabouttea.com/bente-from-kilimanjaro-specialty-tea-is-experimenting-with-african-clay-pots/

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