Malawi Tea 2020

Revitalisation programme towards living wage

The Malawi Tea 2020 partnership brings together the organisations who can deliver the changes required to achieve a competitive and profitable Malawian tea industry where workers earn a living wage and smallholders earn a living income.

About the programme

The Malawi Tea 2020 programme is an ambitious, action-oriented coalition of Malawian tea producers, trade unions, the largest international tea buyers, relevant certification standards, NGOs and donors. Our goal is to achieve a competitive, profitable tea industry that can provide for living wages and living incomes and improved nutrition for its workers by 2020. The following 5 objectives have been set out to be achieved by 2020:

  • A more competitive and profitable industry that is paying a living wage to workers:working together to unlock orchestrated activities that will help Malawian tea producers and tea smallholders to become more profitable, by improving productivity and quality of Malawian tea.
  • A healthier, motivated, and productive workforce with greater opportunities for women: improve the quality of estate housing in line with the provisions of voluntary standards, and workers will receive more nutritious meals. Also, HR management will be improved and better opportunities for women are created.
  • An improved smallholder sector where farmers earn a living income: build the knowledge of smallholders through Farmer Fields School methodologies, improve their business management and provide them with agro-inputs that will lead to more and better tea production and subsequently improve the livelihoods of Malawian smallholder farmers and their families.
  • An improved wage-setting process with greater work representation: change the wage-setting process, so worker and employers’ organisations will engage in a meaningful process of collective bargaining.
  • More sustainable energy use and an improved environment in tea growing areas

The Coalition

The programme is supported by companies all along the tea value chain. All producers are part of the programme through the Tea Association of Malawi (TAML). The main buyers of Malawi tea are involved; tea traders, packers as well as retailers. Also involved are the main development organisations, certification schemes, civil society actors and trade unions in the sector. The partnership is endorsed by the Malawi government. The following 21 organisations have signed up to a commitment of achieving a competitive, profitable Malawi tea industry where workers earn a living wage and smallholders a living income:  (in alphabetical order): Ethical Tea Partnership, Ethical Trading Initiative, Fair Trade, IDH – Sustainable Trade Initiative, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Malawian Tea Traders Association, Marks and Spencer, Mother Parkers, OTG, Oxfam, Rainforest Alliance, Tata Global Beverages, Taylors of Harrogate, Tea Association of Malawi, Tesco, Twinings, Unilever, UTZ, Van Rees. The programme will annually review its progress at the Annual Progress Meeting. This meeting will take place in Malawi. The first Annual Progress meeting is planned for October 2016. A progress report will be made available publicly following this meeting.

The partnership

Tea producing companies

    Members of the Tea Association of Malawi
Tea buying companies & retail
Tata Global Beverages
Taylors of Harrogate
Jacobs Douwe Egberts
Mother Parkers
Ostfriesische Tee Gesellschaft
Marks and Spencer
Standards and certification organisations
Fairtrade International
Rainforest Alliance
Supporting parties
Oxfam GB/Malawi
Tea trading companies
Van Rees
Tea and Coffee Merchants Association, TCMA

Tea and wages in Malawi

Malawi is Africa’s second largest tea producer, after Kenya. Malawi is also one of the world’s poorest countries. Some, 62% of Malawians live below the World Bank’s extreme poverty line, and there is a lack of access to adequate nutrition for about 50% of the children. The tea industry is the largest formal sector employer in Malawi, employing 50,000 workers and providing livelihoods to more than 14,000 smallholders. Tea estate jobs are considered good jobs in Malawi, paying above the agricultural minimum wage of Malawi and providing a range of other benefits. Nevertheless, wages remain very low as outlined in the Oxfam/ETP/IDH research report:Understanding Wages in the Tea Industry, which covers key countries in Africa and Asia. As a benchmark for living wages in Malawi the Anker report will be used: Living wage for rural Malawi with focus on tea growing area of Southern Malawi, Richard and Martha Anker (2014).

Progress and more information

Every year the coalition will report jointly on progress made towards targets that are set towards 2020 regarding:

  • A more competitive and profitable industry that is paying a living wage to workers
  • A healthier, motivated, and productive workforce, with greater opportunities for women
  • An improved smallholder sector where farmers earn a living income
  • An improved wage‐setting process with greater worker representation
  • More sustainable energy use and an improved environment in tea-growing areas

Revitalising the Malawian tea industry

For the benefit of everyone