By Taonga Sabola:
Malawi realised a total of $16.1 million from exports of one of the major cash crops, tea, in 2018, cumulative figures from the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) have shown.
The earnings were $1.6 million higher than the $14.5 million the crop fetched in 2017.
With Malawi’s import needs standing at about $230 million per month, the earnings from tea in 2018 could be enough to propel the economy for two days.
The statistics show that, in the first quarter of 2018, tea prices averaged $1.86 per kilogramme (kg), further indicating that the country raised $4.3 million from the crop.
In the second quarter, tea prices averaged $1.84 per kg and total realisation from tea sales through the Limbe Auction Market amounted to $7.2 million.
In the third quarter, tea prices averaged $1.71 per kg and total realisation from tea sales through the Limbe Auction Market amounted to $2.2 million.
In the fourth quarter of the year, tea prices averaged $1.54 per kg and total realisation in the quarter amounted to $2.4 million.
Tea Association of Malawi Chief Executive Officer, Beyani Munthali, was not immediately available Tuesday to comment on the prospects on the crop.
Malawi’s tea industry dates back to 1891 when a Scottish planter named Henry Brown settled in the country after losing all of his coffee in Sri Lanka due to disease.
Tea is largely grown by large commercial estates as well as smallholder farmers in Mulanje, Thyolo and Nkhata Bay.
There are about 18,000 hectares of tea grown in Malawi.
About half or 9,000 hectares are located in Thyolo, 6,220 hectares in Mulanje, and 650 hectares in Nkhata Bay located on the western shore of Lake Malawi.
Malawi exports her tea to the United Kingdom, United States, South Africa, Canada, Pakistan and the Middle East.