Small Tea Growers from Mozambique Win First Place Award at Inaugural Tea Conference

Small tea growers from Mozambique have won first place in the Emerging Specialty Tea category at the African Specialty Tea Conference and Expo in Kenya. The meeting of tea producers from across Africa was an opportunity for small tea farmers to connect with global markets, and the award highlighted the potential of teas from Mozambique.

Celebrating the award winning tea from Mossurize in Mozambique at the African Specialty Tea Conference and Expo in Kenya.

The African Specialty Tea Conference and Expo, was held on the 22nd and 23rd of May, 2024 in Kenya’s Nandi County. The inaugural event marked a significant milestone for the small tea growers of Mossurize, Mozambique, and provided them with a platform to showcase their specialty teas.

Award-winning excellence

Representing a group of small tea producers from Mossurize, two tea farmers from Mozambique brought samples of their whole-leaf processed and hand-produced tea to the expo for the tea tasting and judging event. Remarkably, the Silver Needle tea from the growers of Mossurize won first place in the Emerging Specialty Tea Producer’s category.

First place!
Mozambique tea farmers met with international tea masters.

While at the event, the two tea farmers, Samuel Marambe and Esitta Simbi, shared the story of tea in the Mossurize region and captured the interest of various attendees eager to source specialty teas from Mozambique.

“Winning first place in the Emerging Specialty Tea Producer’s category with our Silver Needle tea is a testament to the quality and uniqueness of Mozambican tea which has never received any fertilizer or chemical herbicide. We are excited to take this knowledge and inspiration back to Mossurize and explore ways to enhance our tea production and market reach,” said Simbi.

Samuel Marambe, from Mossurize in Mozambique, speaks at the African Specialty Tea Conference and Expo in Kenya.

This experience has given us hope and motivation to continue growing and improving our tea and not lose hope.

Samuel Marambe, Tea farmer from Mossurize, Mozambique

“Representing Mossurize at the conference were two dedicated farmers, Samuel Marambe and Esitta Simbi. Despite the lack of a black tea value addition facility in the area, Marambe and Simbi showcased the potential of their region’s tea,” says Nozipho Ndlovu, Regional Programme Manager for RECLAIM Sustainability! at Solidaridad. “Their participation was made possible through the support of the RECLAIM Sustainability programme in Mozambique.”

Sharing the tea story from Mossurize in Mozambique at the African Specialty Tea Conference and Expo in Kenya.

RECLAIM sustainability!

Solidariad’s RECLAIM Sustainability! (RS!) programme supports small tea growers in the Mussorize area of Manica, Mozambique, where climate conditions are ideal for tea production. Currently, 1200 farmers rely on the tea crop for their livelihoods. 

Conference participants make a visit to Tumoi Teas, a specialty tea factory in the heart of Kenya’s Nandi Hills.

However, the absence of a tea processing plant on Mozambique’s side of the border forces these farmers to depend on tea estates in neighbouring Zimbabwe for their green leaf market. This informal arrangement exposes farmers to Zimbabwe’s challenging business environment, while also leaving them vulnerable to Zimbabwe’s fluctuating socio-economic conditions. In the past, Mozambique farmers have had green leaf tea prices drop to just .04 cents in US dollars per kilogram, including payment in kind for their tea, which had an adverse effect on their income.

Nozipho appreciates the difficulties facing small tea producers, like Samuel Marambe and Esitta Simbi. She remarks that, “The challenges they face include currency issues, unfavorable prices, and inconvenient payment terms, which have led many farmers to abandon or uproot their tea fields in search of more economically viable crops.”

To address these challenges in Mozambique, the RS! programme is implementing several  projects. These include building the capacity of the small-scale tea growers (STGs) associations through formal registration and governance structures, and strengthening the capacity of STG associations to engage effectively in decision-making platforms. 

International tea experts attended the conference to taste and judge the teas.

Additionally, the programme advocates for an inclusive business model that encourages the involvement of women and youth. It also facilitates the active participation of STG associations in the East African Tea Trade Association and other multi-stakeholder platforms to enhance the access to markets for the small tea growers of Mossurize.

Knowledge infusion

At the conference, the Mozambican tea growers had the opportunity to network with fellow farmers from across Africa, as well as with global tea enthusiasts and experts. Notable participants included:

  • Bernadine Tay from the European Specialty Tea Association (European Tea Association) highlighted that customers seek an experience when buying specialty tea.
  • Nicholas Despopoulos of zenGate Global demonstrated how digital platforms like Palmyra can break market access barriers for small tea growers by offering product traceability and business matchmaking opportunities.
  • Sharyn Johnstone of Tea Masters Australia stressed the importance of storytelling and creating unique brand names that reflect the origin and heritage of the tea.
Bernadine Tey at the inaugural African Specialty Tea Conference and Expo.

With International Tea Day celebrated globally on the 21st of May, 2024, the success of Mossurize’s small tea growers at the African Specialty Tea Conference and Expo underscored the importance of supporting smallholder farmers as well as their contributions to the global tea industry. The achievement of Mozambique’s tea growers at the Conference served as a timely reminder of the ongoing efforts of Africa’s small tea growers and their potential to shape the future of specialty tea.