The Republic of Malawi, a small southeast African country bordering Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia and flanking the western shore of Lake Malawi, has been producing coffee since the late 1800s. Commercial estates were concentrated in the Thyolo and Mulanje regions in Southern Malawi prior to the government’s creation of special coffee organizational structures. In 1971, the smallholder coffee sector was organized under the Smallholder Coffee Authority (SCA).
Due to a variety of factors, including Coffee Wilt disease and organizational mismanagement, coffee production declined throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In the mid 1990s the government began more actively pursuing privatizing state-owned enterprises with the goal empowering smallholder farmers to manage their own businesses. Today, southern Malawi is still home to a few coffee estates, with 3,000-4,000 smallholder farmers–most with fewer than 200 coffee trees each–found in Northern and Central Malawi and operating within cooperative structures.
The vast majority (90%) of Malawi’s 18 million residents live in rural areas, most commonly growing tobacco (55% of Malawi’s total exports) tea, sugar, nuts, and legumes in addition to coffee. Malawi’s climate is subtropical, with rainy seasons from Oct-Nov and May-June, and specialty coffee production has slowly gained momentum thanks to groups such as Mzuzu Cooperative, which is working to improve quality and increase market access to its members.
Atlas does not actively source from Malawi, but we are able to do so upon request. Please contact us for more information.