The Malawi Tea 2020 programme was launched in 2015. When it launched it was one of the first country-level initiatives aimed at securing a living wage for agricultural workers. An unprecedented collaboration that received buy-in from the tea industry’s entire supply chain, the programme included more than 30 organizations and has worked to achieve a profitable sector where workers earn a living wage and smallholders a living income.

Together, the coalition members developed a Roadmap for Malawi Tea 2020, and agreed on a five-year timeline to make an impact. The programme also looks at wider implications – improved working conditions (nutrition and conditions of employment) and environmental management, making the programme even more unique than most in its holistic approach.

5 pillar roadmap

  • Pillar 1: A profitable estate sector

    The Malawian tea estate sector has continuously invested in production systems to move towards higher quality tea and to diversify estate’s activities.

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    Pillar 1: A profitable estate sector
  • Pillar 2: A motivated workforce with better opportunities for women

    Promoting gender equality is a priority under the Malawi Tea 2020 programme. TAML and tea producers have been addressing issues of sexual harassment and discrimination by increasing employee’s awareness and understanding of their rights.

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    Pillar 2: A motivated workforce with better opportunities for women
  • Pillar 3: A living wage for workers

    Worker wages are set through the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), and the wages are assessed by an independent wages committee, highlighting the gap with the living wage after computing the living wage threshold.

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    Pillar 3: A living wage for workers
  • Pillar 4: A profitable smallholder sector

    The Malawi Tea 2020 programme implements strategies that enable smallholders to have a more sustainable income. This could be through better agricultural practices and land management, diversification of their income base, or business skills development.

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    Pillar 4: A profitable smallholder sector
  • ETP visiting a tree nursery to check up on progress [Credit: ETP]

    Pillar 5: An energy efficient and environmentally sustainable industry

    The programme supported the industry on climate change adaptation, tree production, beekeeping, and increased availability of fuel efficient cookstoves. In addition, a multi-stakeholder Mulanje landscape initiative has started.

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    Pillar 5: An energy efficient and environmentally sustainable industry

Click here for the full 5-year Roadmap

 


The Coalition

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:

Tea and Wages in Malawi

Malawi is the top three tea producer in Africa. Malawi is also one of the world’s poorest countries. When the programme 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).

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