In late January, the Kenya Tea Development Agency Management Services (KTDA-MS), Unilever, and IDH (the Sustainable Trade Initiative) marked the conclusion of a collaborative initiative called ‘Upscaling and Embedding Sustainability for Smallholder Tea Farmers’. This project has been working to improve the livelihood of thousands of small-scale tea farmers trained in sustainable agricultural practices under a farmer field school (FFS).
“Starting off with 700 farmers we have now reached over 85,000 farmers in eight years though FFS, and by integrating the training with Rainforest Alliance certification,” said Jordy van Honk, program director tea at IDH. “The project improved the relationship between farmers and KTDA, increased the number of women in leadership capacity, and led to improved nutrition and diversification of FFS farmers, an unprecedented achievement at scale.”
And Sylvia Ten Den, procurement director Tea Africa at Unilever, added, “The farmer field schools have not only given the farmers the opportunity to learn how to improve tea quality but also delivered social benefits – such as income diversification, health and improved food and nutrition.
“It has been a real privilege for Unilever to support such a worthy program that is deeply connected to our sustainable living plan and in particular, our aim to enhance the livelihoods of millions of people in our supply chain and beyond.” KTDA will now proceed on its own with the program; with trained farmers now training their fellow growers until more than 560,000 farmers will have been trained in the beneficial practices.