Malawi is a landlocked country located in between Zambia and Mozambique and shares a border with Tanzania in the north. It is characterised by the Great Rift Valley which traverses the country from North to South.
Mzuzu Cooperative Union members are located in the Northern highlands of Malawi and almost 80% of the coffee is grown on terraces by smallholder farmers. There are 3,000 members, of which 25% are women and they have been growing coffee since the early 1930s. The Union was formed in 2007, and prior to this was operated by the Government as a Smallholder Coffee Authority.
The union comprises of six cooperatives: Misuku hill bordering Tanzania where over 50% of their coffee is produced at altitudes of 1700 to 2000 masl. Phoka Hills (attitude 1300 -2500), Viphya hills (1200 – 1500m), Nkhata Bay highlands overlooking Lake Malawi (altitude 1000 -2000m), South East Mzimba on the south of Viphya plateau (altitude 1200 to 1700m) and Ntchisi East (altitude of 1200-1800m).
Mzuzu’s aim is that every smallholder farmer has good accommodation (iron roof, cement floor, plastered, adequate ventilation), three meals a day, adequate warm clothing, a warm home and are able to send their children to school.
Cherries are harvested at dawn and brought to be pulped in the early afternoon. Careful washing and grading is carried out on the same day before the wet parchment settles into separate fermenting tanks. The fermented coffee is dried on raised beds, then the parchment is transported to the central hulling plant in Mzuzu and sampled for moisture content, green graded, roast assessed and cupped prior to hulling. Coffee is then transported through Mozambique for shipment from Port of Beira on the Indian Ocean.