Satemwa Tea Estate (STE), through support from the Malawi Innovation Challenge Fund (Micf), on Monday launched a factory that is poised to process high value specialty tea for the local, regional and international markets.
The new facility was officially opened by UNDP Resident Representative, Mia Seppo, and DfID Malawi Head of Mission, Jen Marshall.
This is the first of its kind in the Southern Africa region and marksthe realisation of the company’s dream to establish itself as a supplier of high value, specialised tea.
The green tea line completes the set of investments as envisaged under the Micf supported project, which also includes the establishment of the naturally flavoured specialty tea using various natural herbs, setting up facility to process tea bags and creation of a 100 percent smallholder “Yamba” brand of Tea for the domestic and regional market.
The Satemwa tea value addition project is one of the many innovations being supported by Micf in the country.
Established in 2014, Micf is a grant financing instrument being managed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with funding from UKaid, Federal Republic of Germany through KFW and the International Fund for Agriculture Development (Ifad) under the private sector development programme.
Seppo described the launch of the factory as a milestone in the tea industry.
She said the factory will help smallholder farmers to realise more from their tea.
Satemwa Tea Estates General Manager, Robin Saunders, said he expects the launch of the factory to help his company add more value to tea.
As it is the case with all challenge funds, Micf is a competitive mechanism set up to support the risk in innovation by allocating financial support to innovative projects coming out of existing business in Malawi to improve outcomes of the poor while at the same time testing long term commercial viability of the businessmodels which are identified through a highly competitive process.
Micf seeks to utilise the strengths of the private sector in developing and testing new ideas.