Malawi Sable Farms Cooperative - Rainforest Alliance Certified
The Sable Farms group represents 2 coffee estates in South and East Malawi. The eastern estate is called Chipale, the one in the south Ngapani. Combined, these two estates cover 574 hectares under coffee, making Sable Farms Malawi’s largest coffee producer.
The Ngapani and Chipale estates in the Sable Farms group really set an example for coffee production both nationally and internationally. In a region with poor infrastructure, no connection to the power grid and uncertain access to water, the Ngapani estate is a fully drip-irrigated coffee producing operation. The estate built a school for the local community and through the sale of coffee they have been able to invest in a clean drinking water supply for the community and farm. Ngapani Estate alone is the largest employer in the agricultural sector of Malawi’s Mangochi district. In total, the Sable farms employ 1800 workers and keep a permanent staff of 70 people.
All coffee is wet-processed on the estate. It undergoes a classic washed process with a 12-hour fermentation. Afterwards, the coffee is dried on raised beds. The Sable farms also own a dry mill infrastructure to prepare the coffee for export.
The landlocked country in south-central Africa neighbours Mozambique to its east and south, Zambia to its west and Tanzania to its north. The Mulanje Massif runs through the south of the country, which provides the river network with most of its water. Another important water source is Lake Malawi. Malawi has a subtropical climate with two rainy seasons between October and November and May and June. Harvest takes place from April to October with harvesting peaks varying from region to region.
Coffee production in Malawi relies on a small network of coffee cooperatives and 5 large estates mainly in the south. Of these 5, Sable Farming is the main producer and exporter of washed Arabica coffee. The estate sector produces around 2/3 of the annual national coffee volume (1500 MT).
Estimates say Malawi has between 3000 and 4000 smallholder coffee producers, who are organized in 6 cooperatives mainly in the central and northern region. In turn, these 6 organized into 1 umbrella cooperative: the Mzuzu Coffee Planters Cooperative Union. The smallholder and cooperative sector produces between 350 and 450 metric tons of coffee per year.
The biggest challenge for the national coffee sector remains the poor infrastructure and plants with low resistance to diseases. Thriving estates like the Sable Farms are an important economic force for the region, setting an example for the country’s potential in coffee production.