UNDP reiterates tea sector support
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) representative to Malawi Shigeki Komatsubara has reaffirmed the agency’s support for the tea industry as one of the sectors that can turn the country into a net exporter.
He said this after touring Satemwa Tea Estate in Thyolo District and Tea Research Foundation in Mulanje District.
Komatsubara also called on the country to scale up value addition initiatives to benefit more from the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.
“Malawi must define its strengths and use them to its advantage in providing high value products such as tea to the global market. Malawi does not need to produce everything; what we, as a country, need is to identify products, it can be one or two but of high quality, and I am sure that there are people out there who are willing to pay more for quality products from Malawi,” Komatsubara said.
He reiterated the agency’s commitment to support the country achieve its net exporter dreams through innovation and value addition.
He said the agency is ready to work with the tea sector in realising such dreams.
“My tour here was meant to appreciate what is being done and, I must say, I am impressed with the capacity that the tea sector has to grow the Malawian economy,” Komatsubara said.
Top researcher at Tea Research Foundation Nick Mphangwe said the institution is conducting research which will see the development of best tea varieties to meet demand on the international market.
“What we need are early maturing varieties that are also enjoyable to consumers. As such, the research we are engaging in now will help us achieve that goal,” Mphangwe said.
The tea sector is one of the major sources of employment in Malawi, providing job opportunities to about 60,000 people in Mulanje, Thyolo and Nkhata Bay districts.
Malawi is the third largest tea producer in Africa after Kenya and Uganda.
Eric Msikiti is a Senior Reporter/News Producer at Times Group. Though relatively young, Eric boasts years of experience in Malawi’s media industry.