Tea tastes even better thanks to training scheme
A training scheme to improve the quality of tea harvested in Rwanda has been initiated in a bid to ensure crops reach the best possible price at both national and international markets.
Spearheaded by the National Agriculture Export Development Board (NAEB), the scheme has trained more than 1,200 tea farmers in harvesting standards.
Francis Twagirayezu, NAEB’s representative in Mombasa, said: “Rwandan tea, especially the liquor type, is always the best at the Mombasa auction. However, traders always complain that they find foreign materials in the tea. With the skills gained we hope the problem will cease.”
Tea production in Rwanda currently comprises of 11 tea factories and six tea projects with an annual production volume of more than 23,000 metric tons of dry tea.
The area under tea cultivation is approximately 15,000 hectares and since 1995 tea production has grown from 5,414 tons to 23,249 tons in 2010.
Rwanda produces one of the best quality teas in the world with about 97.3 percent exported in raw form, 60 percent is sold at auction, 37.3 percent is sold directly and 2.7 percent is sold locally.
About 100 trainees were selected from each of the 11 tea factories and in Mulindi, more than 200 tea farmers were trained.
Twagirayezu said: “Improving farmers’ skills will not only boost their incomes but also promote sustainable farming methods.
“I’m optimistic that once farmers master the standards, Rwandan tea can cost as much as $6 per kilogramme at auction.”
Currently, primary grades of tea fetch between $2.9 and $5 per kilogramme at the Mombasa auction.
Other steps to help improve tea quality are for processors to meet with tea brokers from the Mombasa auction so they can discuss the challenges the industry faces in improving its quality.
About 70 percent of the tea sold at the Mombasa auction is traditionally exported to Egypt, Pakistan, UK, Sudan and Afghanistan.
However, countries including Russia, China, the USA, Turkey, Iran and the UAE are also increasingly interested in purchasing Rwandan tea, which is another reason for improving its quality.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”