By Sam Banda Jnr:
Small scale tea farmers have been advised to embrace new farming techniques and diversify if they are to make the most of their effort and contribute to national economic development.
Agricos Operations and Projects Director, Justin Kaliwo, made the call on Saturday during a farmers training it organised at Naming’omba Tea Estate in Thyolo District.
Kaliwo urged the farmers to consider diversifying to horticulture for sustainability, food security, self-employment and economic growth, among other things.
“Naming’omba engaged us to empower their workers, who work in tea plantations. It was important to empower farmers, especially workers, to be doing something to generate income,” Kaliwo said.
Kaliwo said, apart from training farmers, the organisation was working towards connecting them to stable markets.
Agricos is working with farmers across the country.
“We have a network of farmers and the idea is to be consistent in supply and grow the country’s economy. At the moment, farmers are growing water melons which we used to import. It is time to diversify,” Kaliwo said.
The organisation is working with financial support from IDH, a sustainable trade initiative funding tea estates to improve the welfare of workers.
Naming’omba Tea Estate has about 4,600 employees.
Naming’omba Tea Estate Human Resources Manager, Thomas Chakukuma, said they engaged Agricos and other players to empower women workers.
“We will provide land to the workers to grow vegetables; thereafter, we will also be buying the vegetables they would be producing,” Chakukuma said.
One of the estate workers, Lizzy Lombe, thanked the organisation for the information shared.
“We will be able to grow vegetables such as red cabbage and white Irish potatoes,” Lombe said.
Agricos is also working with Universal Chemicals and Supplies in promoting chemicals for improved yields.