The Darjeeling region, located in the foothills of the Himalayas, is perhaps the most famous region of tea production in the world. Our partner Ambootia provides us with organic green tea, which is organic certified by the IMO as well as biodynamic by Demeter. Tea is increasingly more often being used in cosmetic products because of its skin vitalizing and rejuvenating effects.
Not only has the growth of tea plantations been improved due to the conversion to organic farming, but also the environment and the health of the employees. The fact that no pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals were used in the cultivation has considerably improved air and water quality across the region.
After the conversion to organic farming came fair trade. Two years later, in 1994, followed the Fairtrade certification and the harvesters profit from the premium. These premium funds are not earmarked, but must go to projects who improve the living and working conditions of male and female workers. What projects those are is up to the Fairtrade premiums Committee to decide. This committee includes representatives of both workers and management.
Environmental protection plays an important role
The commitment of the plantation for the protection of the environment and health is evident not only in the decision for organic farming. Ambootia also believes in natural irrigation methods and focuses on good management of water resources. A water turbine provides clean energy for the production of tea during the harvest months.
Educating employees about environmental protection is also important, which the plantation enforces through various activities, such as lectures in schools or simply through informative signs.
Waste management, drinking water, and medical care
A waste collection system has additionally been set up in the surrounding villages, which later expanded to a waste separation system. Waste management does not only protect the environment – it is also an important step towards ensuring hygiene standards and has a positive effect on the health situation. The employees also profit from the drinking water projects and from the cost free medical treatment at the plantation hospital.
More possibilities for tea harvesting families
Not only environmental protection and the health of employees are promoted by the premium funds. The Fairtrade premium Committee also decided to invest in agricultural projects which strengthen the financial situation of the employees.
Fruit and vegetables as an additional source of income
As part of the „Workers Income Augmentation Program“ was a biological vegetable garden created and beehives were installed. Ambootia provides their workers with cultivable land free of charge and buy their crops to a price that is 25 percent higher than the market price – in this way the employees have an additional source of income.
Families also benefit from the free supply of milk. The cows that were first handedly acquired for their milk also create biological fertilizer that the plantations buy – a further additional source of income. The infrastructure is improved. Besides the construction of the village street, the community building was also renovated. It is used for meetings, further education, weddings, or other events.
Education – a way out of poverty
Much of the Fairtrade premium has been invested in education projects. School buildings were renovated, a library was furnished, additional teachers were hired and books, furniture and school uniforms were distributed. A scholarship fund was created to make the further education for the gifted children of plantation workers a reality.
As well in cultural terms has the Ambootia group something to offer its tea harvesters: a music centrum where concerts take place has been established. Particularly impressive are above all the positive impact of Ambootia Tea Estate of the surrounding tea plantations. The Ambootia group has brought ten run down plantations with all employees and their families back on track.