It’s crazy to think that about 70,000 cups of tea are drunk around the world every second! It’s by far the most popular drink around the world but farmers and workers associated with the tea crop are often exploited and not given a fair wage or ability to sustainably grow.
The Thiashola Tea Estate
The Thiashola Tea Estate is located in the southern region of Tamil Nadu state in India. The estate has a size of 190 hectares and is found at 2,000 metres above sea level. There are 407 field workers employed there (of which 257 are women) as well as 15 tea factory workers and 16 office staff working on the estate. Each year, Thiashola Tea Estate produces 664 tonnes of tea which is shipped to buyers in Germany, Australia and the UK.
Working with Fairtrade
Thiashola Tea Estate became part of Fairtrade in 2008 and sells up to 53% of what’s produced at Fairtrade prices, earning $1.10 as part of the Fairtrade premium that allows them to invest in community projects.
All around the world, healthcare in developing countries, particularly those that still have large rural populations, is very limited. For those working on the Thiashola Tea Estate, it can be a journey of between 2 and 6 hours depending on weather conditions to visit the closest hospital. Working with Fairtrade has allowed the local community access to a doctor 5 days a week and free monthly medical camps where community members can be examined by an eye surgeon, dentist and gynaecologist should they wish to.
Education has also dramatically improved in children and adults with help from the Fairtrade programme. A new school bus has been purchased that allows children in the community to travel the 15km to the closest school and receive an education they have a right to. Those who have been through secondary school and college also have access to a scholarship that will allow them to further their education at a college or university. Lastly, two new computers have been supplied to the community that will enable free IT training classes to be run.
What can you do?
Buy your tea from Fairtrade sources. In the UK, 8% of sales of tea come from sources associated with the Fairtrade brand ensuring the farmers get a fair wage and can work towards building a sustainable future for themselves, their families and their community. Sales of Fairtrade tea have doubled since 2000 but only accounts for 8% of all tea sales- we can all do so much more to better that!