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Tea sector moves to eliminate child labour

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The Tea Association of Malawi (Tamal) is engaging smallholder farmers in the sector in its quest to eliminate child labour in tea estates.

Tamal Industrial Relations Secretary Flemings Mwenibabu said the programme was bearing fruits since it commenced a year ago.

Mwenibabu said, among other things, the association has trained 432 compliance monitors who detect and address child labour issues in tea estates across the country.

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The sector, together with the Ministry of Labour, has also conducted 46 labour inspections thus far to ensure that companies and tea estates are complying, according to Mwenibabu.

“These steps are part of efforts to ensure that the tea sector in Malawi is not dented by child labour,” Mwenibabu said.

According to Mwenibabu, the interventions are part of an agreement it signed with the International Labour Organisation in 2020 as part of a programme to accelerate elimination of child labour in the tea supply chain.

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“That is why we are working with smallholder farmers, commercial farmers and manufacturers so that we eliminate child labour at any given point in the tea value chain,” Mwenibabu said.

One of the trained monitors in Mulanje District, Delli Nessi, said, through community engagement, the sector has been addressing the vice.

“Previously, the practice (child labour) was rampant, but through sensitisation meetings that we conduct, I can challenge you that there is no child in the sheds or estates harvesting tea, unlike the case previously,” Nessi said.

Tea is one of Malawi’s most valuable crops, giving employment opportunities to over 60,000 Malawians.

But child labour has in recent times tainted the reputation of the industry.

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