By William Kumwembe:
A recent report has shown that Malawi has capacity to improve its tea sector’s competitiveness and profitability and further increase its input to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The Third (2017-2018) Malawi Tea 2020 Revitalisation Progress Report issued on Tuesday has shown that securing external credit financing has, however, continued to be a challenge.
It shows that the sector is still delivering better quality tea and sustaining living wages and living incomes, while maintaining a conducive work environment.
For instance, the report shows that the initiatives led to an across-the-board wage increase of 11.29 percent for 208/19, plus a further five percent increase for 2019/20 with inflation rate estimated at 8.7 percent.
The percentage increase translates to $1.90 from $1.71.
Presenting the report to stakeholders in Blantyre, Malawi Tea 2020 Steering Committee Chairperson, Richard Fairburn, said it is evident that the drive is bearing tangible fruits in improving the sector.
“It is clear that this is transforming tea trading and the tea industry as a whole in Malawi. The year, 2018, marks the midpoint of the programme and we have again made significant progress in many fronts,” Fairburn said.
Tea Association of Malawi President, Sangwani Hara, said the future of the tea sector looks bright amid some challenges.
He said evidenced improvements in wages; the country’s tea sector could continue making positive strides.
“Input of the tea sector to the economy would continue improving. With the Malawi Tea 2020, we are upbeat that the sector would continue thriving,” Hara said.
Labour Commissioner in the Ministry of Labour, Hlalerwayo Nyangulu said the tea sector remains the second largest employer after the government, hence, the need for massive investment.
“I am encouraged by the support that the tea industry in Malawi is receiving from stakeholder. It is without doubt that the sustainability of the industry is driven by its profitability,” Nyangulu said.