Kenyan tea sector focuses on challenges of climate change

Key players from the Kenyan tea industry, tea buying companies and development organisations from around the world descended upon Kericho (Kenya) on May 16th 2011 to discuss the implications of climate change and adaption strategies for the Kenyan tea sector.

The meeting, hosted by the Tea Board of Kenya, provided the Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) and the German Development Agency (GIZ) with the opportunity to outline the results of their climate change modelling for the region’s tea area.*

The analysis showed how the geography of Kenyan tea producing regions might look by 2020 and 2050, with significant shifts expected. While the potential severity of the impact were a surprise to some, the models correlated with detailed data presented by the Tea Research Foundation of Kenya showing how key climate change indicators are already changing.

ETP and GIZ will be focusing the remainder of their three year public-private partnership on providing practical tools and support to assist producers adapt to the implications of climate change, with a particular focus on supporting smallholder farmers.

A number of inspirational speakers provided examples of existing experience of implementing adaptation measures within tea and other related sectors, such as coffee. A very positive message coming out of the meeting was that many of the adaptation measures described will have additional benefits such as improving agricultural practice, reducing energy use and costs, or increasing resilience amongst smallholders. So despite the uncertainty in climate change predictions it should be possible to develop a ‘no regrets adaptation strategy’ which helps producers to thrive however the impacts of climate change play out.

The need to respond now was nicely summed up by Dr. Wachira from the Tea Research Foundation of Kenya when he said, “The more prepared we are, the more we can reduce the impacts on livelihoods.”

Despite the challenges ahead, there was optimism about the ability of the different stakeholders in the sector to work together and take the necessary measures to adapt, so that tea can continue to provide viable and sustainable livelihoods in the future.

*Read the full report: Climate change report from Kericho

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