The smallest of the Tanganda Tea Estates, Zona is situated in a basin shaped valley below the Chirinda Rain Forest and Mount Selinda Mission School and Hospital. The eastern boundary of the estate forms the international border with Mozambique and Jersey estate lies to the south and Farfell coffee farm to the north. The estate falls under Chief Mapungwana’s area and leadership.
The terrain is rolling with steep slopes, the altitude is 815 metres above sea level at the lowest point and 969 metres at the highest point. We experience a sub tropical climate with hot humid summers and mild winters with an average of 1250 mm of rain per annum.
It is a majestic estate with visitors awe inspired and always commenting on its beauty. They are surprised by the fact that it suddenly appears like an oasis out of nothing special, after what seems an endless journey on rough roads.
Two river systems, the Zona river, which the estate derives it’s name from, and the Manyoka river feed the Dam, which stores water for irrigation and domestic purposes.
The estate is made up of two divisions, School and Gasela diversions and is 780 hectares (ha) in extent. Tea plantations make up 420 ha, gum and wattle 186 ha, indigenous forest 60 ha, with the balance being used for rivers, roads, housing, recreational facilities, airstrip and dam. The tea fields comprise of seedling tea chich were planted up to the mid 1970’s and amount to 206.4 ha, and 113.5 ha of clonal tea or improved cultivars planted thereafter. These teas were developed by the Tea Research Foundation in Malawi.
Presently Zona produces 1900 tonnes of made tea of which about 65% is exported and the rest is for the local market. Approximately 1500m3 of firewood are harvested yearly for steam generation for our processing plant. This factory was built in 1951 but a major refurbishment exercise accurred in 1972 to modernize the facility and now improvements are done annually. The factory comprises of two processing lines has the potential to manufacture 72000kgs of Green Leaf daily. All manufactured tea is sorted and packed ready for market.
Plucking tea by hand held machines is a new concept introduced in 2013 and has us all excited as the tea tables are immaculately level and neat. Russel Tapson is the current Estate Manager having joined Tanganda in 2003. He has also ranched cattle therefore growing tea was a new venture for him. He is supported by a dedicated and very loyal management team and staff and credits much of the estates success to them.
Amenities on the estate include a secondary and primary school, recreational hall, trading store, cocktail bar, beer hall, managers club, clinic and sporting facilities. These are well supported and much fun is had.
Despite Zona being so far from civilization it is our home and we are particularly proud of it and the close knit community that has developed over the years.