A ready supply of tea bushes

I recently returned from a successful trip to Indonesia where I’m working closely with my colleague Nelia on the ETP / IDH smallholder project. The project is helping smallholder farmers to improve the productivity of their plots with the aim of improving their livelihoods from tea.

The cooperative that we’re focusing on is located in Western Sumatra, near to the Gunung Talang volcano, and the surrounding virgin forest makes for a beautiful setting.

While I was there the project management team had a number of important meetings about setting up a tea bush nursery that will supply smallholders with new tea bushes. This is something I have experience in coordinating from my previous roles as an Estate Manager in Indonesia and Sri Lanka. The aim is to provide the farmers with younger and ‘stronger’ tea bushes (at an affordable price) that will be used to increase bush density and to replace older bushes – ultimately this should increase productivity and yield a better quality of leaf.

Back in Sri Lanka I recently received word that the management team had secured a 2 ha plot for the tea bush nursery in the Gunung Talang, Solok District (2 hours drive of Padang City, the capital city of West Sumatra).

This former vegetable plot has a rich soil and an abundant water  supply that makes it perfect for cultivating young tea bushes. The management team will also make sure that the young tea bushes run in a north / south direction so that they get as much sunlight as possible to aid growth.

A second piece of good news is that the local estate, which the smallholders supply, has agreed to prune their own mother bushes and supply the nursery with cuttings; a far better scenario than the previous arrangement of collecting them from an estate over 3 hours away!

I’m really looking forward to returning to Indonesia to see how the management team develop the plot in my absence. I’m planning to return at the end of March and will provide an update and pictures when I do!

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