Variety: SL28, Catimor
Processing: Fully washed
Altitude: 1100 masl
The Pamwamba Malawi coffee is from in the Southern Thyolo district of Malawi, which was first planted out in 1979. The altitude varies between 3000 and 3400 ft.
The terrain is rolling valleys, with steepish slopes and patches of indigenous forest retained, between the fields of coffee.
The soils are a mixture of dolerite clay and alluvial soils and very fertile.
Rainfall is around 1200ml to 1800ml. While the main rains fall between November and March, there are winter drizzles, called Chiperoni, between June and August.
The varieties of coffee grown are a mixture of Catimor varieties, with a small percentage of SL28 coffee.
They have a rotational programme that uproots and re-plants each field every seven to eight years, which means that they are always harvesting from young coffee, which is largely disease free.
The coffees are all hand picked red cherry, with the same trees being re-picked approximately 10 times over the harvest, to give a good 85% main grade return.
General information on Lupili, Pezuru and Pamwamba coffees:
All these farms cater for their staff, with education, housing and clinics and full family benefits, as is the norm in all three countries.
As all these farms also work with supplementary irrigation and they replant their coffee bushes every seven to eight years. This means that the coffee always comes from new young trees, producing from 2 years to 7 years age and an average overall farm green coffee yield (including the non producing re-planted fields) of 2.5 mt per hectare. With 2 year old coffee giving half a ton and the 4 to 5 year old coffee giving 4 to 5 mt per hectare. The picking is very selective and only the red cherry is harvested, with each tree picked approximately 10 to 14 times a harvest.
Malawi´s history as a producing country began in 1891, when the first coffee plants were introduced by English colonialists. In approximately 1930, some missionaries brought back seeds from the north of the country where small producers bought them and resold parchment coffee to the same missionaries. The first cooperatives were set up in the 50s with the support of the British government, which began to supply small growers with plants. This is how in 1957 the Misuku Coffee Growers Cooperative Society came into being, exporting coffee via Moshi in Tanzania.
Independence in 1964 brought about the disappearance of cooperatives and left room for ADMARC (Agricultural Development Marketing Corporation), which did however retain much of the profits at the expense of smaller farmers. This led the Ministry of Agriculture to establish the Smallholder Coffee Authority (SCA) in 1971, which was charged with providing services and loans to small landowners in northern Malawi. However, the SCA did not fulfil the expected targets due to several internal conflicts and poor resources´ management. Farmers could only receive 20% of the proceeds of their sales, while the remaining 80% was used to cover the Authority´s expenses. In 1999, after racking up a debt equivalent to $ 100,000, the SCA was privatized and transformed into the Smallholder Coffee Farmers Trust (SCFT). It worked to support small cultivators through development programmes of coffee production and crop diversification, to carry them towards a new system of cooperatives. The introduction of the hybrid variety Catimor instigated the greatest development, with its high resistance and excellent yield in a short space of time. In 2007, after a consultation amid the cultivators, SCFT was transformed into Mzuzu Coffee Planters Cooperative Union (MZCPCU), a system which integrated the main cooperatives from the different production areas and whereby the cultivators could – for the first time – have their quotas.
Nowadays, Malawi´s production is largely constituted by large tracks of land, cultivated intensively, and only 20% of the total is at the hands of small producers. In addition to Catimor, other cultivars cultivated in Malawi include Gesha, SL28, Agaro and Bourbon. In recent years producers have been incentivized to cultivate the more highly prized Gesha and SL28 varieties, which can yield larger rewards.