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Friday, March 21, 2008

Malawi tea quality up

BY Business Reporter

14:17:50 - 21 March 2008

tea, with its honey gold colour is expected to attract more buyers on
the international market this year, a statement from London based
International Tea Committee has said.

The statement quoted in the March issue of Business Africa says Malawi,
whose production last year hit 47,752 tonnes, is expected to produce
about 45,000 tonnes this year, about three percent of the global output.

“Unlike some poor quality Indian blends that have added to the
perennial supply glut, over years, Malawi’s tea has special value that
is unique,” reads part of the report.

The report says Malawi, which ranks behind regional tea producers like
Kenya, has the potential to increase its market share on the back of
post election violence in Kenya despite good rains in the growing
regions of the Western Rift Valley.

But the report says Kenya rues Malawi’s low cost of production which is
less than 1 US dollar(K140) a day compared to Kenya’s labours who are
paid about US$2.55,--almost twice the rate in Malawi.

However, a South African based Inter Press Service (IPS) report says
despite the country's prominence in tea production, local producers
complain that the price for tea is low when compared to its neighbour,

The report says prices at the end of last year at the auction market
showed that tea was selling at an average price of US$1.50 per kilogram
for the top grades while in Kenya the same grade tea, was fetching up
to US$ 3.31 dollars per kilogram at the time.

Malawi, then Nyasaland started growing tea around 1880s under the
British rule and most of the tea is grown in southern region in the
districts of Thyolo and Mulanje.

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