Tea Association of Malawi (Taml) has joined Tea Association of Canada (TAC) as a full member to enhance its product and market diversification.
The move comes in the wake of stagnant and depressed tea intake in its traditional markets and an observed global shift in demand from crush, tear, curl (CTC) teas, which Malawi produces, to specialty teas and infusions, according to Taml chief executive officer Clement Thindwa.
“Malawi’s traditional markets of United Kingdom [UK] and South Africa have over the past three years—between 2013 and 2015—exhibited stagnant and depressed Malawi tea imports respectively,” he observed in an interview on Friday.
To kick-start their membership participation, Thindwa and Taml chairperson Sangwani Hara attended the Tea Association of Canada’s Annual General Meeting at the end of the year in Toronto, Canada where Hara was elected one of the directors of the association.
“It is envisaged that by becoming a full member of the Tea Association of Canada, the Malawi tea industry will access some strategically vital privileges and broaden its access not only to the Canadian market, but the entire North American tea market,” he said.
Tea is Malawi’s second largest contributor of foreign exchange after tobacco—whose allure is fast diminishing—and contribute about seven percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
According to available statistics the tea industry is the second largest formal employer after government, providing jobs to over 60 000 people.
It is calculated that over 1.5 million people rely on the tea industry for livelihoods through knock-on and ripple effect; hence, the industry is a key pillar to the country’s economy.
Already, the local tea industry started producing speciality teas which are exhibiting tremendous global market growth and Satemwa Tea Estate is the local industry leader in this regard.
The estate has not only been exporting its speciality teas in bulk, but it is actually “packed and branded”, which is some great achievement.
“Satemwa speciality teas have been accepted in a number of European countries such as the Netherlands and had significant attraction during our marketing mission in Canada. Our membership of the Tea Association of Canada will mean Taml will be promoting these teas on our behalf and thereby achieve cost effectiveness,” said Thindwa.
To enhance its current market diversification strategy, Taml has negotiated and is developing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the East Africa Tea Trade Association (Eatta) for a virtual/real time linkage of the Limbe Tea Auction, located along Kidney Crescent in Blantyre, to the Mombasa Tea Auction in Kenya-the second largest tea auction in the world after Colombo in Sri Lanka. n