Tea Master Profile: Satemwa Tea Estate - Malawi
MacLean Kay established Satemwa Tea Estate in 1923. The first tea cultivation began in 1926, then expanded in 1928 through the spread of Indian assamica seeds. Since its beginning, the estate has focused on the uplifting of the community and region. Through employing about 2,600 people, the Satemwa Tea Estate is able to produce 2.5 milllion kilograms of tea per year. The Satemwa Clinic provides medical services to employees and their families. The Satemwa Primary School is an institution that combines the resources of the government and the Satemwa Tea Estate to provide education to the children of the community. Fuel efficient heating appliances have been adopted through a social responsibility initiative to aid in the prevention of deforestation in Malawi.
Malawi was the first African country to grow tea commercially. Malawi was originally called Nyasaland when the British first settled. In the beginning, the main crops were tobacco and coffee and in 1878 Jonathan Dunce initiated the first experiments with planting tea. Large scale production began in 1891, when several regions attempted to grow tea. Mulanje and Thyolo became successful; establishing estates, factories and packing facilities. By the 20th century, the tobacco industry was declining, giving more resources to tea, although tobacco remained an important crop. Today, tea accounts for 8% of exports in Malawi, making it the 3rd most important export after tobacco and sugar. In the 1960s, The Tea Research Foundation was established in the town of Mulanje to help research new cultivars, yield levels, and irrigation in the estates.