Kawambwa tea estate is the major national tea producer located in Kawambwa District of Luapula Province in Zambia. The tea estate has a tea processing factory and a tree plantation to supply fuel wood requirements for the boiler.
The tea estate started as a Government tea growing pilot project in 1969 but it was commercialized and incorporated as a State Owned Company in 1975 while the tea processing factory was commissioned in1976.
The Government privatized Kawambwa Tea Company in 1996 in order to promote rapid national economic growth through an accelerated private sector participation. However, the privatization of Kawambwa Tea Company did not yield the desired economic growth which prompted Government to repossess the assets in 2015 and mandated ZAFFICO to revamp the tea estate and rehabilitate the tea processing factory.
STATE OF THE TEA ESTATE
The tea estate is located in Kawambwa District of Luapula Province in Zambia at latitude 9° 45’ South and longitude 9°17’ East with a mean altitude of 1,240 metres above sea level. The existing tea fields cover a total area of 423 hectares while the wood fuel tree plantation covers a further 180 hectares out of a total farmland area of 1,500 hectares.
The tea plants are currently about 45 years old with potential for continuous tea leaf production of upto the age of 100 years. The tree plantations supply wood fuel to the furnaces during tea processing.
The tea estate supplies green leaf to the tea processing factory but productivity is relatively low due to historical management challenges that include non-adherence to good agricultural practices.
ZAFFICO plans to revamp the tea estate by adopting improved crop husbandry practices and expanding the tea estate over time. Furthermore, ZAFFICO plans to engage local farmers into a sustainable tea out-grower scheme by providing various incentives.
STATE OF THE TEA PROCESSING FACTORY
The tea processing factory is located within the tea estate and it has an installed capacity of 1,200 metric tonnes of made tea per year. The tea factory mainly produces aerated (fermented) black curl, tear and cut (CTC) tea. ZAFFICO’s main focus is to rehabilitate and replace the old factory machinery in order to improve the tea quality. The Company will aim at enhancing tea quality by adopting cost effective and efficient manufacturing methodologies that will include leaf withering, maceration, fermentation and drying processes of tea.
ROLE OF THE TEA COMPANY IN NATIONAL ECONOMY
Government established the tea Company for purposes of promoting self-reliance through import substitution, enhance food security, create employment opportunities for communities, support poverty reduction initiatives and accelerate social infrastructure development.
The recently launched Seventh National Development Plan has prioritized the attainment of socio-economic development through diversification of the national economy and accelerated job creation through industrialization.
The primary national strategic focus is to promote value addition to mineral raw materials and agricultural produce through forward linkages to manufacturing and agro-processing in order to promote exports of finished products.
ZAFFICO is determined to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the Government’s desire to diversify the national economy through diversification and industrialization. Subsequently, the Company’s strategic focus is to rehabilitate the tea fields and adopting cost effective and efficient tea processing technologies in order to produce quality tea for the local and international markets.
It should be noted that tea is an important cash crop that could significantly contribute to enhance economic growth and industrialization efforts in Zambia and other African Countries.
Furthermore, the revamping of tea growing and processing in Kawambwa District will promote employment creation opportunities and accelerate the rural infrastructure development in line with the Government’s strategic focus for the Seventh National Development Plan.