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Fair Trade tea in small-holder countries?


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It seems like organic & Fair Trade tea are more easy to produce in countries that follow the "plantation" model of production (India, Sri Lanka, etc.), because it is easier to monitor the crops and the workers.

Kenya and China (state farms excepted), seem to both follow the "small holder" model, where a bunch of small farmers produce tea that are then pooled at the factory. This seems like a bit of a regulatory headache when it comes to getting proper certification...

On the one hand, in Kenya at least, there is a push towards consolidation of tea production (http://www.emoinvestments.com/News_inner.php?id=21), however, there has also been a counter-trend in the past towards more small-holder work, as tea from small-holders is usually less expensive to produce (because of the ability to side-step expensive environmental and labor regulations).

In China there are a few people trying to produce Fair Trade tea under the small holder system (Yi Select under Wang Geda, Dazhangshan Organic Tea Farmer Association, etc.) Do you think this trend will continue? What about dealing with the Chinese State Farms? Bureaucratic nightmare? :) I'd be really interested in hearing from someone more familiar with the situation in China...

What about Kenya? Most of its tea goes to the UK, which has a keen interest in Fair Trade... I've seen news articles saying that they're making it work, but I'm not quite sure how...

Thoughts?

*Edit: Ah, through legal loopholes, apparently.

Whilst several large-scale tea estates are powerful market players, smallholders produce over 60% of the nation’s annual output. All smallholder tea is processed (withered, crushed, fermented and dried) at factories located near the point of production and marketed as black tea under the auspices of the Kenya Tea Development Agency Limited (KTDA), the largest single exporter of processed tea and the second largest exporter of black tea in the world. KTDA was privatized in 2000 and now serves as a management agent for 57 KTDA factory companies and their 400,000 licensed small-scale tea growers (Kinyili, 2003; www.ktda.com). Because privatization endowed smallholders with the legal ownership of KTDA’s assets, including the factories, farmers are considered co-operative structures for the purposes of Fairtrade.
Edited by mbanu (log)
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I'm not sure exactly what's going on with the growers themselves here, but I know some "organic" teas are marketed and sold here. I've never been to this cafe myself, but I know they run lots of events in Suzhou to raise awareness for both fair trade and organic products.

The Green Room

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