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Tea fortunes on the decline

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The country’s t e a production, sales and prices have been on the decline in the first quarter of the year 2015 between January and March following international supply levels and erratic weather conditions that prevailed in the country during the crop season.

Tea Association of Malawi (TAML) chief executive officer, Clement Thindwa, said production for the first quarter was down by 15.5 percent as at March at 18,400 tons, down from 21,800 tons produced same time last year.

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Thindwa said the drop is largely down to erratic weather conditions attributed to climatic change and forecast for an even lower production level by the end of the year.

“The weather conditions coupled with the international tea market supply levels will continue to influence Malawi’s tea trade performance,” said Thindwa.

“Malawi’s tea production structure is envisaged to remain unchanged for a while until weather patterns change,” he said.

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As of April 21, 2015, about 2,722 tons of tea had been traded through the Limbe Tea Auction, a figure which is much lower as compared to 3,937 tons sold over same period in 2014.

The average price by April 21 was US$1.44 compared to US$1.48 by the same time last year.

Malawi has been on a trend of declining tea production over the years, with total yield recorded at 45,000 metric tons in 2014, down from 52,000 tons in 2009 when the country registered a record tea harvest.

Thindwa said TAML continues to strive in research in order to mitigate against unfavourable prospects.

Tea is one of the major foreign exchange earners for the country, and it is mostly produced in the Shire Highland districts of Mulanje and Thyolo.

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