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Tea sector strategises on GDP growth

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The Malawi tea sector is under revitalisation with stakeholders geared to further grow its input to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

At a two-day long annual progress meeting held in Blantyre under the Malawi Tea 2020, stakeholders conceded more has to be done if the sector is to continue thriving.

Among others, the stakeholders recommend improved wages and quality of the crop if Malawi tea is to remain competitive on the international market.

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Targets under this initiative include investing in future workforce, improved smallholder farming practices, and an improved wage setting process.

Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Sammuel Madula, who presided over the opening of the indaba said the government would like to see that wages for tea workers significantly improve by 2020.

“Our interest is that all workers in Malawi must earn decent wages to enable them live descent lives. This does not spare workers in the tea sector. It is slavery to pay below minimum wage and what we want to see is a departure from the normal,” said Madula.

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But on the other front, the battle is to see input of the sector to the economy, which over the recent past continued to dwindle, significantly grow.

Richard Fairburn, a Strategic Advisor in the process says the sector needs diversity if it is to revamp its input to the economy.

“Tea is an industry that needs revitalisation; we need to invest in irrigation system and also create better factories for production of quality tea.

Tea Association of Malawi, Chairperson, Sangwani Hara, conceded input from the crop has been going down.

He said there was therefore, a need for continued investment in technology to grow the input.

“Tea sector has a lot of challenges including wages. We are in the course of finding ways to improve the trends and in no time, input of the commodity to the economy shall continue growing,” said Hara.

The initiative is championed under the Malawi Tea2020 – a partnership that brings together stakeholders in the drive to improve the local tea industry’s input to the GDP.

The industry remains second largest formal sector employer, with over 50, 000 workers.

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