The Magwa and Majola tea farms in the Eastern Cape have been ranked among some of the world’s biggest exporters of tea after being revived less than a year ago.
Late last year, the Magwa and Majola tea farms received an intervention from government to help stabilise the companies and revive them from the dire straights they were in. For years, operations at the estates in Lusikisiki and Port St Johns were in crisis.
Workers were going months without getting salaries. That is why the provincial government was forced to intervene. The provincial government employed a business rescue practitioner to assess the two estates and come up with solutions to help repair the situation.
Rural Development and Agrarian Reform MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane had his department inject R45-million into the businesses to help turn them around. His department worked on managing the funding correctly and it was a great success.
“We feel uplifted. The local economy is uplifted,” ECRDA chief executive Thozi Gwanya said.
“A lot of achievements have been made the last couple of months and one is that we have been named the second-best producers of tea in the world.”
A report from Span Africa confirmed that the South African tea estates were currently ranked second. India came in first and Kenya third.
The two tea farms are being merged into one functioning farm. Together they have harvested more than 330 tons in the last seven months, with the projected income at about R7.5-million.
MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane visited one of the estates recently to share the exciting news and was very happy to see the people working there.
“We are happy for the workers, who now get paid monthly. Many had lost hope when there was no plan, trees were overgrowing, there was no pruning, no fertiliser, and no direction at all before we came in to help but now they are working.
“We congratulate them for their contribution in the revival of the estates and we hope they will look after these jobs because there are many people who are unemployed,” Qoboshiyane said.
“I am happy because business rescue and not liquidation was a good decision and the money we asked the legislature for this work is paying off.
“We are pleased to see retailers interested in buying some of the tea from these villages. The factory is working well and the tea plantations are showing quality.
“We also want to diversify crops planted here, invest in agro-tourism to tap into the Magwa Falls and use the golf course and the lodge in the estate.”