The Fair Trade Committee e-mailed Vutico. Vutico is a Production Manager for a tea firm in Malawi. See below to see Vutico’s answers to our questions:
Q1.How many days do you and your workers work per week?
A1.We work 6 days a week i.e. Mondays through Saturdays 48 hours week
Q2. What are your working hours?
A2. Our working hours is 8 hours
Q3.What benefits do your workers get from working in a fairtrade tea plantation?
A3.Our workers do not get any benefit for working in a fair trade tea plantation however these benefits are meant for a smallholder farmer who sells Green leaf to our Organization and in essence was meant to benefit from Training, farm inputs , protective equipment, Seedlings to infill field gaps or vacancies to boost harvest, Shared expertise for a long term business and various community projects. However, it sad to note that at the moment the Fair trade foundation that used to come in and work with us as a partner is no longer offering the support as before. As for us as a company, we provide : Free education to children, free medical care to employees and their families, free Ambulances, free housing, security, free meals during lunch breaks to workers in our plantations and we construct bridges and assist communities surrounding our plantations according to their requests.
Q4.How much tea does your plantation grow?
A4.We have a capacity of producing 18.2 million metric tons of made tea a year of which about 15-20% is Small holder leaf. You can use Green leaf to made ratio of 22.5% to come up with total Green leaf before manufacture.
Q5.How many workers work in your plantation?
A5.We have close to 1,000,000 workers who work in our plantations. It important to know that we have 10 tea factories and the figure covers all the plantations . Indeed we are a huge employer.
Q6.Where does your company send the tea leaves to be made in to tea bags?
A6.Most of our Tea buyers are from oversees. Tetleys, Typhoo, Twinnings, Sainsburys just to mention a few. Our customer does the tea bag as most of them are tea packers and blenders, we sell our product in large bulks.
Q7.What companies buy your tea leaves to sell in shops?
A7.James Finlays, Stansand, Ranfer, Global, Vanrees including the ones in (6)
Q8.Can you describe what the workers in your plantation do? What jobs do they do?
A8.Our workers carry out various operations eg, Tea plucking being major, field cleaning, security of woodlots to avoid deforestation and related jobs to the plantation.
Q9.What is your job at the plantation?
A9.Being a well Seasoned Production Manager for years with the company, I am now doing Tasting and Allocations of Tea to different buyers according to a buyer`s spec.
Q10.Do you like your job?
A10.Very much I do like my job.
Q11. Do you like drinking tea or do you prefer drinking coffee?
A11.Tea is good for your health. Tea is friendship, be it with bread , biscuit or without bread, tea will keep you refreshed, strong and ready for a party all night. I love and enjoy my good cup of tea than coffee.
How I wish I could prepare the best cup of tea for your class!…… Keep well