The Tshivhase Tea Estate’s disgruntled staff is losing faith in its ability to ever recover. Despite the government’s nearly R200 million investment in the project since 2006, the once-thriving estate appears to have completely collapsed.
Tea harvesting has been halted for almost two years straight due to financial issues and malfunctioning machinery. Midi Tea, a black tea produced by the estate, is no longer sold in supermarkets. Less than 20 of the more than 1,700 hectares of tea plantations are being maintained and restored without any harvesting. Due to a lack of resources, including workers, the remainder have been abandoned.
The tea estate has only about 200 employees now, down from its peak of more than 2, 000. Over a number of years, vehicles, tractors, graders, and packaging equipment have been rendered useless and mechanically unusable due to inadequate maintenance.
The Limpopo Economic Development Agency ( LEDA ), according to Mr. Richard Thagwana, who has spent 40 years working at the tea estate, was not giving the government organization enough support. Because we lack harvesters and maintenance funds, we are currently not producing, which means that everything in this area is broken and that the fleet needs to be maintained. And because I am aware of how big this tea industry is, it hurts me. We can make a different type of tea in addition to black tea, but LEDA is n’t being diligent about it because they constantly bring up decertification, he claimed.
A few hectares of the tea plantation must be maintained and rehabilitated by the nearly 200 workers who are still on duty to prevent overgrowth. They voiced their displeasure with the circumstance. The issue is that our machines are not being serviced by LEDA. Despite being paid, we are doing nothing in this place. To pack tea and keep the shop open, we need LEDA to bring parts and service our machines. Since LEDA took over, we have become very few. We currently have a problem because we are unsure of our ability to keep working. In order to create more jobs, they said, we want to revitalize the tea estate.
Tea was no longer regarded as a viable business, according to LEDA’s head of communication and marketing, Mr. Patrick Monkoe. A task team is currently investigating decertifying the company. Given that the tea plantation costs taxpayers R40 million annually, the government agency predicted that it would likely close. We made the decision to form a task team to investigate the decertification of the business project, which came to an end, after realizing that our investment in the tea estate was essentially not yielding any returns.