Tea farmers growing different and stronger with ADAPTea project

22 July 2015   |   Catharine Russell, Monitoring & Evaluation Manager, Fairtrade Africa and Giannina Cadena, Climate Change and Sustainable Development Officer, Fairtrade International
A golden sun rises behind tea leaves in India.
Photo by: Siddarth Selvaraj

Fairtrade tea farmers are finding new ways to innovate and grow.

Timothy Mulunga is a tea farmer. He set up a new plot in front of his house with ViAgroforestry support, where he planted coffee and bananas, yam, sugar cane and sorghum, as another source of income and for his own use. He also planted several trees to provide shade, fix nitrogen in the soil, and they can be used to prepare organic insecticide.

He’s a member of Rungwe Smallholder Tea Growers Association (RSTGA) in Tanzania and one of 14,000 farmers in East Africa taking part in ADAPTea, a two-year project to support tea producers to adapt to climate change. Working together, ViAgroforestry, Fairtrade Africa and Fairtrade International (funded by the Nordic Climate Facility and project partners) aims to make these farmers and their communities from 21 smallholder organizations stronger – economically, socially and environmentally.

His neighbor in the village is Boaz Mwandambo, one of the lead farmers trained by ViAgroforestry, who showed us the demonstration plot set up as part of the project. Here farmers learned how to plant tea, make fertilizer from a local wild sunflower and conserve soil by planting trees and elephant grass around the plot to avoid erosion. The plot offers young people the chance to learn how to plant tea and already two youngsters have started their own plots.

RSTGA plans to spread the message of ADAPTea more widely with a radio program on its own station, Chai Radio, explaining the impacts of climate change, and ways to adapt and increase resilience, using the manual that was developed and distributed as part of the project.


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