Malawi Tea 2020

Malawi is the world’s seventh poorest country. Although tea sector jobs are considered good, paying more than the Malawi average and providing a range of benefits, living standards for tea workers are still poor. Smallholder tea farmers in Malawi also struggle to make sufficient income to provide well for their families.

How ETP is Helping

The Malawi Tea 2020 Revitalisation Programme (Malawi Tea 2020) has been developed in response to concerns about low wages and poor living conditions in the Malawi tea sector.

Together with the Tea Association of Malawi (TAML), Oxfam, IDH (the Sustainable Trade Initiative), and GIZ (German Development Agency), we’re leading a coalition of stakeholders from across the entire tea value chain to create a competitive Malawian tea industry where workers earn a living wage and smallholders are thriving.

Malawi Tea 2020 is a unique partnership, which brings together all the right organisations who can deliver transformational change. The partnership consists of Malawian tea producers, trade unions, international tea buyers, NGOs, and donors:

 

Outcomes

The programme, which is the first of its kind in the tea industry, aims to deliver six key outcomes:

  1. An industry that is investing in its future and its workforce
  2. Significant improvement in wages and benefits for workers – supply chain commitment to a living wage by 2020
  3. Improvements in smallholder farming practices, yields, quality, income, and income diversification
  4. A healthier, motivated, and productive workforce, with greater opportunities for women
  5. An improved wage-setting process with greater worker representation
  6. Sustainable energy use and improved environment

To achieve these outcomes a 5-year Roadmap was developed:

malawi-tea-2020-roadmap

 

 Achievements

A lot of progress has been made through the Malawi Tea 2020 partnership:

  • Worker wages: Producers have raised wages several times since the programme started and they are no longer linked to the low Malawi rural minimum wage. An evaluation by independent wage experts showed that, despite the high inflation in Malawi and difficult macro-economic conditions, the gap between the prevailing wage and living wage has narrowed.
  • Wage-setting processes: The first ever collective bargaining agreement in the tea sector was signed between the Tea Association of Malawi and the Plantation Agricultural Workers Union.
  • Smallholder farming: Farmers have improved their incomes by increasing their yields and quality. 3,300 smallholder farmers (65% women) have improved their farming and business skills. 45 smallholder nurseries have been established and over 540,000 new tea plants have been cultivated.
  • Increased incomes: As well as increased income from improved wages and better farming practices, local savings groups established in tea communities have provided additional income to 3,100 smallholder farmers. The additonal income is used to meet their basic needs and to invest in areas such as housing, medical care, and education.
  • Nutrition: 30,000 workers are benefitting from improvements in the lunchtime meal provided by estates, which are now fortified with essential minerals and vitamins. In addition, all tea estates are providing fresh vegetables once a week. The fresh vegetables are from the estates own gardens and local markets. Some estates are creating business opportunities for women to engage in growing vegetables on the estate.
  • Competitiveness of the industry: Despite a challenging economic context, adverse weather conditions, a strong Kwacha/US dollar exchange rate, tea estates have increased their investments in replanting and irrigation, and in upgrading factories to improve tea quality, investing $6.3 million over the past year. A further $3million investment will come through new innovative finance deals.
  • Energy and Environmental Sustainability: A clean cook stoves programme for all tea communities has been established and linked to carbon credits. 10 tree nurseries have also been established for community fuel and nutrition, and forest regeneration. Climate change maps have been produced for tea growing areas that will help farmers adapt to climate change and mitigate the worst effects.

What the experts say

According to living wage experts Richard and Martha Anker who made an independent assessment of progress in October 2017, “The significant progress on wages from the start of the Malawi Tea 2020 programme has been maintained in the face of a difficult macro environment for tea estates”.

Comment by Rachel Wilshaw, Ethical Trade Manager at Oxfam

“A joint report by Oxfam, Ethical Tea Partnership, and IDH showed that the approximately 50,000 tea pluckers in Malawi were trapped in poverty, despite receiving the legally required wage and some in-kind benefits. Malawi Tea 2020 is a rare coalition of parties that have the collective power to bring about positive change in the industry. We welcome the progress made in the last year on wages, nutrition, and worker representation, particularly in the face of a devastating drought caused by the El Niño effect. Nevertheless, these vulnerable workers need all companies, retailers, buyers, and producers to step up further if a living wage is to become the norm by 2020.”

About our progress: key documents

Latest from our Blog

Women’s Rights: Bridging The Gap in Malawi

27 November 2017

Later today I’ll be taking part in the United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights. I’ll reflect on how far we have come in terms of the positive…

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Infectious Optimism in Malawi

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I have just returned from an inspiring trip to Malawi where I was privileged to meet estate workers and the Ethical Tea Partnership’s Malawian team, and hear how Malawi…

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Improving the Lives of Women and Girls Across Tea Communities

8 March 2016

Today is International Women’s Day, a celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women around the world. The day also exists to remind people that globally…

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Latest News

Press Release: A living wage for Malawian tea workers comes one step closer

24 October 2016

Press Release: A living wage for Malawian tea workers comes one step closer

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Malawi 2020 Tea Revitalisation Programme – Blantyre Communique (14.09.15)

14 September 2015

Malawi 2020 Tea Revitalisation Programme – Blantyre Communique (14.09.15)

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Case Study: Raising Wages (09.06.14)

9 June 2014

Case Study – Raising Wages (09.06.14)

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Latest Press Releases

Press Release: A living wage for Malawian tea workers comes one step closer

24 October 2016

Press Release: A living wage for Malawian tea workers comes one step closer

Read

Malawi 2020 Tea Revitalisation Programme – Blantyre Communique (14.09.15)

9 December 2015

Malawi 2020 Tea Revitalisation Programme – Blantyre Communique (14.09.15)

Read

Case Study – Raising Wages (09.06.14)

Case Study – Raising Wages (09.06.14)

Read

Latest Resources

Malawi Tea 2020 Wages Committee Report 2017 (by Richard and Martha Anker)

15 December 2017

Malawi Tea 2020 Wages Committee Report 2017 (by Richard and Martha Anker) This Wages Committee Progress Report updates the living wage to October 2017. It also indicates the gap…

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Malawi Tea 2020 Revitalisation Programme (Second Progress Report 2016–2017)

8 November 2017

Malawi Tea 2020 Revitalisation Programme (Second Progress Report 2016–2017)

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APM 2017 Part 1: Opening Agenda

APM 2017 Part 1: Opening Agenda

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