BACKGROUND & STRUCTURE
The Sukambizi Association Trust (SAT) was established in the year 2000 and was registered in 2003 under the Malawi Companies Act (No. 19 of 1984), however it was converted into a Trust on 16th August 2008. The organization is composed of smallholder tea producers with an average field size of 0.3 hectares.
Since the 1960s tea farmers in the area sold their green leaf to a local tea company known as Malawi Tea Company (MATECO). Consistently late payments prompted 1,100 farmers to join together in 2000 to form SAT, which enabled them to negotiate a contract to instead supply their green leaf to nearby Lujeri Tea Estates Ltd. As well as making punctual payments, the estate provides training in good farming practices and is developing a nursery to supply good quality tea seedlings.
Tea provides up to of smallholder incomes and they also grow maize, cassava, pineapples, bananas and sugar cane for domestic consumption and sale to local markets. The majority of farmers in the region in 2000 lived in houses with thatched roofs rather than iron roof sheets, around 99% had no electricity or running water and only 20% had bank accounts. More than 90% of their children attended primary school but only 6%continued to secondary education. Farmers struggled to buy enough food during the dry, off-peak season when little tea was harvested and sold.
SAT is composed of twenty one Blocks namely Mbiya, Khokholo, Namame, Khokholo Sub, Nakulanje, Sukamphesi, Sukamphesi Sub, Navivi, Kangaza, Zambakoma, Zambakoma Sub, Khukhumba, Njola, Sukamaere, Namiwawa, Mikukuni, Zimbili, Zimbili Sub, Nansula, Nansula Sub, Chanunkha, Mphanje and Lipumulo. The first 21 Blocks are in Mulanje District, whereas the last two are in Nchima Thyolo District.
SAT has a Corporate Social Program and supports the local communities in so many ways. Among others, it has supported in building a maternity wing at Naphimba Village and offers an ambulance service for the community. SAT has built 12 school blocks, a guardian shelter at Bondo, 8 bridges, a 25 km water project for the community, and offers subsidy on fertilizer for participating farmers. SAT grows high quality tea on its 23 blocks which is sold to Lujeri Tea Estates Ltd for processing.