The production of tea provides millions of people with an income. But revenues are small owing to increasing production costs and the low quality of much of the produce. Smallholders can barely make ends meet and workers on tea estates are often underpaid. Although smallholders produce a significant proportion of global tea production, they have a weak market position because they are often not organized. Tea production also causes significant environmental damage. Pesticides and fertilizers pollute the soil and harvesting the large volumes of firewood needed for factory processes causes forest degradation.
Strengthening farmer organisations, good agricultural practices and certification can provide the solution. Training producers in sustainable farming techniques can benefit farming families as well as the environment.
Tea programme: a unique approach
Impact: better labour conditions and a better environment
History of the tea programme and outlook
|Start of the tea programme||2008|
|Main issues||smallholder productivity and income, discrimination of workers and their wages, sustainable market development in biggest Asian markets|
|Countries||Argentina, China, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Vietnam|
|Partners||Agricane Malawi, Business Watch Indonesia, China Tea Marketing Association,Ethical Tea Partnership, IDH, Institue of Social Development Kandy Sri Lanka, Hindustan Unilever, KNVKT, Ministry of Rural Development and Cafe Control Vietnam, Oxfam Novib, Prakruthi India, PTPN Vill, Rainforest Alliance, Sara Lee, Sari Wangi Group, SOMO, Tea Research Association India, Tea Smallholder Development Authority Sri Lanka, Unilever, Utz Certified, Yuran University China|
|Donors||Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), Douwe Egberts Foundation, FICA/VAIS|
Over the next five years the tea programme will focus on:
- developing quality assurance models and new markets for sustainable tea in Asia;
- helping tea companies to implement corporate social responsibility (CSR) and source sustainably produced tea;
- upscaling sustainable practices and producer support in order to reach unorganized smallholders and workers;
- developing a complete set of training materials.
To continue the tea programme we are looking for partners that want to:
- invest in models that include smallholders in sustainable supply chains;
- stimulate the consumption of sustainable tea in Asian markets;
- address the critical issues of discrimation and fair wages;
- support upscaling of the Solidaridad tea producer support programme;
- invest in farmer loans for agricultural inputs.
Solidaridad aims at a sustainable and fair tea sector, from producer to consumer. The organization consists of a worldwide network of regional expertise centres and cooperates with local partners. Together we deliver the following services:
Our services in the Tea programme
- Training farmers in farming techniques that have less negative impact on people and the environment and lead to better quality and higher yields.
- Supporting agricultural producer organizations and industrial producer companies to qualify for social and environmental certification standards.
- Supporting civil society organizations that empower women, farmers or employees, as well as organizations that protect nature and bio diversity.
- Supporting companies to implement corporate social responsibility (CSR) related to sourcing in developing countries.
- Seeking dialogue with stakeholders and the public using our knowledge, experience and views on sustainable economic development and corporate social responsibility.
Some of the key results in Solidaridad's Tea programme:
- In 2009, the first tea estates and farmer cooperatives became UTZ CERTIFIED, guaranteeing more human and environmental friendly production.
- Up to 2010, a total number of 6,000 estate workers and 35,300 smallholders are trained to improve their social and economical position and apply more environment friendly farming techniques.
- With the supported smallholders in Indonesia we have seen an average income improvement of 10%, a 51% yield improvement and considerable yield improvement.
- In several countries in Asia and Africa, Solidaridad established National Reference Groups, platforms for all stakeholders in the national tea business, to assist in national initiatives for a sustainable tea chain. The NRGs in Indonesia (Forum Sertifikasi) and China (National Working Group) have delivered national guidelines for sustainable tea production which are in line with the international voluntary standards.
- On the market side, 4 international buyers have committed to UTZ Certified tea, 3 local Indonesian players will market sustainable tea to local consumers, and for India Solidaridad works with the biggest market player on sustainable tea.