Malawi has finally managed to register an increase in terms of tea production, two years after the output was on a downward spiral.
Tea is the country’s second foreign exchange earner after tobacco.
According to Limbe Auction Floors information, tea production increased in 2017 from 43.12 million kilograms to 45.5 million kilograms (kg). In 2015 production was at 39.44 million kg.
The tea sector witnessed production falling by about 22 percent in recent years due to effects of climate change.
Tea production has been going down since 2009 when the country produced about 52 million kg and since then there has been a decline year-in-year-out until last year when it picked up largely due to the good rains.
The local tea industry is faced with a number of challenges holding back the industry’s growth potential key among which are low prices, rising production costs lower yielding and old tea bushes that require replanting.
Players in the sector argue that unless Malawi plants better quality and high yielding crop, tea outpour will continue to fail.
Recently, Tea Association of Malawi chairperson Sangwani Hara told the media that over the past two years, unreliable electricity supply has forced estate owners to spend in excess of $3.5 million (about K2.5 billion) to procure generators and diesel.
But the association maintains that despite these challenges, Malawi tea remains one of the best in the world and that efforts are being made to revitalize the tea industry and enlarge the market base for export.
A recent Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) Economic Review Report for the third quarter of 2017 indicates output in the quarter was at 4.8 million kg which is an increase of 12.1 percent from 5.5 million kg produced in 2016 third quarter.
Prices for the crop averaged $1.91 per kg during the review period, higher than $1.62 per kg fetched in a corresponding period of the preceding year and total realization from tea sales amounted to $2.3 million during 2017 third quarter.
Tea is Malawi’s second foreign exchange earner after tobacco contributing about 7 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP).NE