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 its workers with living wages, living incomes, and improved nutrition by the end of 2020. The following 5 objectives have been set out to be achieved:
- 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 Field 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
Malawi Tea 2020 is supported by companies all along the tea value chain. All participating producers are members of the Tea Association of Malawi (TAML). The main buyers of Malawi tea, including traders, packers, and retailers, are on board, and the main development organisations, certification schemes, civil society actors and trade unions in the sector are engaged in the programme. The partnership is endorsed by the Malawi government. The following organisations have committed to achieving a competitive, profitable Malawi tea industry where workers earn a living wage and smallholders a living income:
Malawi is Africa’s second largest tea producer, after Kenya. Malawi is also one of the world’s poorest countries. When the program started, 62% of Malawians lived below the World Bank’s extreme poverty line, and there was 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 was used: Living wage for rural Malawi with focus on tea growing area of Southern Malawi, Richard and Martha Anker (2014).