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Tea exports to UK down 41%

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Malawi’s tea exports to the United Kingdom tumbled in 2016 as the sector continues to struggle with export markets.

Tea Association of Malawi (Taml) has confirmed that tea exports to the UK market went down by 41 percent last year.

UK is one of Malawi’s traditional and anchor tea markets after the Republic of South Africa.

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Taml Chief Executive Officer Clement Thindwa said the slump in the UK market is bad news for Malawi.

“This is a very worrisome development because tea is one of Malawi’s key pillars in the economy, being second largest foreign exchange generator and the industry is the largest formal labour employer after the government,” Thindwa said.

He said the only compensatory aspect is the increase in tea exports to South Africa.

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“Exports to South Africa had risen by 17 percent in 2016 and an intake of 209 metric tonnes for Egypt after a two-year break in 2014 and 2015.

“Exports to United States of America rose by 85 percent in 2016 from 847 metric tonnes to 1,569 metric tonnes,” he said.

Thindwa further said exports to Canada also registered an increase of 435 percent from 240 metric tonnes to 1,284 metric tonnes in 2016.

He also said despite the seemingly very good rains this year, tea production has only risen by 3.4 percent from 28,403 metric tonnes to 29,367 metric tonnes between January and May.

“Wi th no signs of Chiperoni to date, it is envisaged production for 2017 may just remain the same as 2016 unless something happens,” Thindwa said.

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