With an aim to promote collaboration and explore potential new markets, a high-level United Nations Development (UNDP) delegation, led by the Malawi Representative: Ambassador Shigeki Komatsubura, recently visited Satemwa Estate in Thyolo and The Tea Research Foundation in Mulanje.
The field trip started at Makandi Estate with a meeting between Ambassador Komatsubura, his UNDP delegation, Mr. Sangwani Hara, Tea Association of Malawi (TAML)Board Chairperson; Mr. Tonda Chinangwa: TAML Chief Executive Officer and Mr. Flemings Mwenibabu: Industrial Relations Secretary for TAML.
Different varieties of Malawi Tea, laid out for the tea tasting.
Following the meeting at Makandi Tea Estate, the group proceeded to Satemwa Tea Estate, where they were welcomed by Mr. Alexander Cathcart Kay, Managing Director for Satemwa Tea Estate, Mr. Cathcart Kay led the delegation on a field tour, where they viewed the plucking process first hand. They proceeded with a factory tour where they saw how the tea leaves were processed and packaged. The Ambassador and his team were amazed by the level of precision and care that went into each step of the tea-making process, from withering, rolling, oxidation and drying.
Following the factory tour, the delegation was treated to a tea tasting experience. The team had an opportunity to taste different varieties of tea, and gain insights into the preferences of tea drinkers in different parts of the world.
The final stop for the day for the delegation was to the Tea Research Foundation Central Africa, (TRFCA) in Mulanje for a Tea nursery and Laboratory tour led by the TRFCA Chief Research Scientist, Dr. Nicholas Mphangwe.
The esteemed visitors learned and saw firsthand about the latest advancements in tea cultivation and processing. They were introduced to new varieties of tea, resistant to pests and requiring less water.
They also learned about the latest techniques for enhancing the flavor and aroma of tea leaves, which could potentially open up new markets for the Malawian Tea industry.
Dr. Mphangwe of Tea Research Foundation Central Africa explaining the science behind the tea.
The last event of the day was a high- level meeting held at TRFCA. During this meeting the UNDP delegation, TAML & TRFCA representatives and two Tea Estate Managing Directors; Mr. Grant Bramsen of Lujeri Tea Estate and Mr. David Reynolds of Eastern Produce Malawi; shared some of the challenges they face in the tea production process. The Ambassador was impressed by the various tea industry stakeholders' commitment to sustainable and ethical practices, which not only benefits the environment but also the small holder farmers, tea estate workers and the surrounding communities as a whole.
Ambassador Komatsubura emphasized the importance of collaboration among industry stakeholders, particularly in the face of challenges such as climate change and changing consumer preferences. The UNDP delegation discussed potential partnerships, access to funding for tea farmers and producers through upcoming UNDP grant opportunities. They hope to promote greater collaboration and innovation and marketing of Malawian tea to international audiences.
The delegation's trip was not only informative, but also inspiring. The Ambassador left with a renewed appreciation for the art and science of tea production, as well as a greater understanding and sense of optimism for the growth of the Malawian tea industry with the right strategic partnerships, value addition offerings and potential new markets.