Tea growers in Thyolo have been urged to start thinking outside the box and explore ways of improving their productivity to increase their cash flow and uplift their livelihood.
Tea Association of Malawi Limited (Taml) Industrial Secretary Flemmings Mwenibabu was speaking in Thyolo during a review meeting for tea growers associations under the Empowering Producers in Commercial Agriculture (Epic) project run by the Women’s Legal Resources Centre (Wolrec).
The training attracted representatives from National Smallholder Tea Growers Association (NSTGA), Thyolo district council, Nsuwadzi Tea Association, Chizunga Tea Association among others.
Mwenibabu highlighted that producing high quality tea, and establishing a good working relationship with estate owners will ensure sustainable income among the farmers.
“We want the farmers to change their mindset, think business, and explore more ways of uplifting their livelihood. They can also apply crop diversification or value addition,” said Mwenibabu.
Project officer Kumvana Mlumbe encouraged the associations to continue working hard to achieve the goals of the project.
“I am happy that in the one year of the project, the associations together with their communities have achieved a lot, in terms of handling of development projects in their areas, gender equality and justice.
“We are optimistic that in the remaining year of the project, they will achieve all what they planned for at the beginning,” said Mlumbe.
She said, for example, the organization had trained 30 women in leadership and advocacy at the beginning of the project and they have managed to train fellow women in the skills pushing the number to 106.
Mlumbe was upbeat that with support from Taml the activities will still continue even after the project phases out next year.
Omega M’bwana vice chairperson for Nsuwadzi Tea Growers Association who is also village head Chaoneka said the association has lined up a number of activities for the year remaining which include lobbying for portable water in the villages as well as good working conditions in the estates.
The two year project is funded by the Department of International Development (DFID) through the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).
The project which rolled out in 2019 is expected to wind up in 2021.