M. K. Shah Exports announced that they have received ISO 22000 and Food Safety Management (HACCP) certifications at their M’bayo factory in Bakavu, Congo - both a first for any tea estate in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
M. K. Shah has 12 tea estates in Assam and West Bengal and has been growing tea in Congo since 2014. The company is also the first in the Congo to complete building ‘bungalows’ and houses key executives residing on the tea estate, which is guarded by the military 24 hours a day.
Jaydeep Shah explains, “The Company hopes to increase confidence amongst the people of neighboring villages who fled due to earlier rebel activities in the area. Our aim is to repopulate all the surrounding areas and provide them with means of livelihood as well as basic healthcare and thereby raise their standard of living eventually. We have already adopted a clinic in the neighboring village and have tied up with a US Based NGO. The “M'bayo Clinic" now offers free basic medical procedures and treatments (including providing prosthetics for those wounded/maimed during the war). By 2017 we will also be building labor houses for our workers, in order to keep attracting more people from the neighboring areas to settle here. Repopulating these areas is important in order to realize our goal of establishing Congo's first tea-growers' cooperative.”
The teas made at M’bayo and the company's second Madaga factory have been well received at the Mombasa auctions and fetch higher prices than teas from Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique. It is hoped that the teas will soon compete with higher medium grade teas from Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi.