Tea: small-scale growers get a fairer share

Traidcraft Exchange has worked in the tea sector in India, Bangladesh and Kenya for more than fifteen years.

IIn India we worked with others to improve the earnings of small-scale tea growers. More than 50,000 small tea growers were directly helped to form support groups. By working together, many of these groups were able to deliver their green leaf tea direct to the factories and began to negotiate higher prices from traders. Some growers secured a 25% increase in price for their tea in this way. Significantly,  many more tea growers, beyond those directly involved in our work, have benefited from higher prices as the balance of power has shifted from traders towards the small tea growers.

Independent evaluation of the work estimated that it reached a quarter of all India’s small-scale tea producers, producing around 10% of India’s tea. Our work in the tea sector has also led to the foundation of an organisation to represent the interests of all small-scale tea growers at a national level - including representation on the Tea Board of India.

A similar approach is now being taken in Bangladesh where there is a growing domestic market for tea. In northern Bangladesh, tea is a new crop and offers opportunity for long term income growth for farmers with very small plots of land.

In Kenya, tea is a significant export crop, and most of this tea is grown by smallholder farmers. Traidcraft Exchange has worked with farmers to train them in leadership and management skills, and make them more aware of their rights under Kenyan legislation.

The understanding gained through these programmes was also able to inform Traidcraft Exchange’s ongoing policy and advocacy work in this area. Read more about our work on fairer supply chains.

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"My tea garden gives me leaves every 20 days. No other crops give such productivity in short periods of time and the cost is nothing compared to growing other crops.

There was a time when we hardly had rice starch. Now I can buy anything my children and family wish to eat.

All this is happening because of my tea garden."

Jakaria,Tea Farmer, Bangladesh