Green harvest: the outgrower tea leaf collection system in the Honde Valley, Zimbabwe
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Commercial tea production in Zimbabwe was started in the 1920s in Chipinge District by Tanganda Tea Company which, for 30 years or so, was the only tea company in the country till it was joined by other companies, South Down Holdings in Chipinge, Eastern Highlands Plantations Ltd., and Aberfoyle Plantations in the (Honde Valley) Inyanga District in the 1950sZ In the late 1960s, TILCOR (now ARDA) started Katiyo Tea Estate also in the Honde Valley.3 For a number of ideological and economic considerations, from the 1920s till the early 1960s, African participation in the tea industry was only as workers on company-owned estates and not as direct producers of tea. However, partly influenced by developments in other parts of the tea growing world, especially Kenya and Malawi, and partly as a result of internal debates on the best land use patterns within the country itself, the colonial state started a tea out-grower scheme in the Honde Valley, and in March, 1964, it was reported: "The first tea ever grown by African farmers in Southern Rhodesia was plucked and delivered to a tea company factory in January ... ” The company referred to was Eastern Highlands. The tea outgrower scheme spread to other districts in Manicaland and, by the late 1960s, Southdown Holdings and Tanganda Tea Company were running outgrower projects in Chipinge District. After independence, the Rusitu Valley Smallholder Tea Project was started in Chimanimani District.