We were delighted to be be able to host the first live joint Cross Party Group on Malawi (CPG) and Malawi All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) yesterday evening - the first time the two Parliaments have been linked in precisely this way.
Live from the Westminster APPG meeting MPs and Peers heard from Nick O’Donohoe, the Chief Executive of Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC), who visited Malawi last year. At the Holyrood CPG the headline speaker was Bernard Kaunda, the Chief Executive of Mzuzu Coffee (Malawi).
In 1978 CDC invested £3.2 million in Mzuzu Coffee. Yesterday, Bernard Kaunda explained how this investment is continuing to transform lives and build sustainable economic development in Malawi exactly 40 years later.
Coffee in Malawi came from a single plant from the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh in the 1890s, taken to Malawi by John Buchanan. Today, Malawian coffee is more popular than ever in Scotland, as part of the 150-year old friendship between the two nations.
After the formal meeting Holyrood and Westminster competed against each other in a gin tasting competition: MPs and Peers at the APPG were invited to taste the difference between Malawian and London Gin, and MSPs had to distinguish Edinburgh and Malawian Gin.
This meeting also formed part of the Scotland Malawi Partnership's Buy Malawian 2018 campaign, exploring how the Scotland-Malawi relationship can help build sustainable economic development in Malawi.
Malawi has a population of around 17 million people. 80% are farmers and, with roughly half the population living on less than £1 a day, it remains one of the poorest countries in the world.
By building markets for Malawian exports, the campaign is able to help support sustainable livelihoods – helping Malawi works itself out of poverty and also reduce Malawi’s dependence on harmful tobacco production.
As part of the campaign, the Scotland Malawi Partnership is promoting Malawian coffee, tea, rice, sugar, craft products, sugar, wine and gin. It is also promoting Malawi as a world-class tourism destination.
Alexander Stewart MSP (chair of the CPG Malawi)said:
“I am absolutely thrilled to have had the opportunity – along with Patrick Grady MP at the APPG in Westminster – of Co-Chairing the Cross Party Group in the Scottish Parliament yesterday evening and it was a great pleasure to have heard from our Guest Speakers; Bernard Kaunda, Chief Executive and Christopher Gondwe, Quality Officer both of Mzuzu Coffee.
“I am continually inspired by the work done between Malawi and Scotland; Mzuzu Coffee and Malawi Gin are fantastic examples of this partnership. The Gin-tasting event was an excellent idea, with MSPs tasked to distinguish the difference between Edinburgh and Malawian Gin.
“These along with many others are all key elements in supporting Malawi’s economic development through exports to Scotland and indeed the United Kingdom as a whole.
“Malawian products in the United Kingdom as well as Malawian Tourism deserve so much focus. Indeed it is intended by the Scotland-Malawi Partnership for this to become an annual campaign, aimed at increasing awareness of all the Malawian products available - and of course Malawi itself as a World Class Tourist destination.
“Products such as the excellent Mzuzu Coffee, Malawi Gin, Linga Fruit Wine, Kilombero rice sold by Just Trading Scotland, Lost Malawi and Speedy Breakfast Tea by Rare Tea Company & Satemwa Tea, Crafts by Wool n’ Wood and Delights, Malawi Chisi Coffee by Artisan Roast, Malawian AAA Coffee by Luckie Beans, peanut butter, Salted cashew and peanuts, Chilli and lime peanuts and corn by Traidcraft plus assorted direct finished products like Nali Sauce also, are all benefiting from our countries’ continuing cooperation.”
David Hope-Jones OBE, Chief Executive of the Scotland Malawi Partnership said:
“It’s wonderful to see our two parliaments coming together in this way to support UK-Malawi trade and investment. We can see first-hand the positive impact CDC’s investment is continuing to have 40 years on. In the coming years more UK aid will be spent through CDC: we encourage CDC to increase its investments into Malawi to ensure this small country –Scotland’s closes and oldest friend in Africa- can continue to benefit from these Commonwealth links.”