New Energy Approaches Set to Directly Benefit Tea Farmers in Kenya

On Tuesday 9th May, the Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) in partnership with the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA), GIZ (the Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH), MARS Drinks, and Taylors of Harrogate (Yorkshire Tea) welcomed key players from the world of tea and sustainable development to officially unveil new and exciting plans that will help reduce energy use, costs, and CO2 emissions associated with processing tea. The innovative programme with a broad reach will benefit some 600,000 farmers across all 67 KTDA processing factories.

The scale-up programme, which will run between May 2017 and the end of 2018 is building on the success of two parallel ETP, GIZ, MARS Drinks, and Taylors of Harrogate programmes that focused on ten factories.

Speaking at the launch, Mr. Lerionka Tiampati, the CEO of the world’s largest smallholder owned tea business said, “KTDA has a duty not only to protect the planet but also to look at ways to reduce production costs and put more money in the pockets of the farmers that supply KTDA.”

Mr. Lerionka Tiampati, CEO, KTDA

The beauty of current projects and the scale up programme is that because the farmers own and hold shares in KTDA, any savings made as a result of increased energy efficiency at the factory is returned to them – ultimately improving their livelihoods.

The Group Head of Technical Services for KTDA, Mr. Francis Miano explained how education and training have been at the heart of the original programme with more than 130 of KTDA’s top line managers trained on energy efficiency management and auditing. He also stated how the programme had reduced energy consumption by more than a million kWh, saved circa 20,000 trees, and reduced costs by approximately 31 million Kenyan Shillings ($300,000). Mr. Francis looked to the future and set out what the new partnership hoped to achieve. He predicted annual energy savings of 19,000,000 kWh, cost savings of around 530 million Kenyan Shillings ($5.2 million), and 300,000 fewer trees destined for boiler systems across all KTDA sites.

Ms. Sarah Roberts, Executive Director of ETP, welcomed the results of the current programme and extoled how by working with KTDA it was possible to disseminate information and good approaches to farmers at an unprecedented scale. She reflected on how one of ETP’s first climate programmes in Kenya had reached 100,000 farmers – made possible only through KTDA’s existing farmer field schools and training and support structures.

Ms. Roberts also paid tribute to MARS Drinks, a long-term partner of ETP’s on environmental programmes in Kenya, and was also delighted that Taylors of Harrogate with their ambitious sustainability plans was on board as well.

The speakers highlighted the great potential for this model in an effort to create lasting and transformational change and this was emphasised by Ms. Katharina Meder, Powering Agriculture Hub Manager for GIZ, who said, “Through this partnership with KTDA we hope to create a model factory for energy efficiency and best practice. If successful this will be used to transform the industry by helping to educate producers from across Kenya, other parts of Africa, and Asian countries too.”

Richard Bond, Global Senior Manager Sustainability, MARS Drinks, described how the original partnership between MARS Drinks and ETP came about following a conversation with Jane Nyambura at a TEAM UP event in London a few years earlier. During that conversation Richard realised how work on climate change mitigation at factory level had additional social benefits in the form of improved livelihoods and as such closely aligned with the values of MARS Drinks. Richard also enthused about the success of the current programme and was excited that all farmers across KTDA would potentially be better off from the upscale programme. He was also excited about the transformational effect of the programme and how the partnership has the potential to influence energy strategy across the Kenyan tea sector.

The evening was concluded with Simon Hotchkin, Head of Sustainable Development, Taylors of Harrogate, the family-owned company behind the Yorkshire Tea brand, stating how they were aiming for all their tea to be Carbon Neutral by 2020. Simon explained how Taylors had measured Carbon Dioxide emissions associated with tea production and found that 67% of their total value chain footprint was attributable to activities in the field and factory including fertiliser use, transportation, and the drying and processing of tea. He confirmed that Taylors was committed to making an impact in Kenya at source as it would not only help reduce energy use, CO2 emissions, and costs, but give thousands of Kenyan farmers better livelihoods.

Project partners

The project team are excited to now be moving forward with this transformational programme, which will take energy audits and training that started at 10 KTDA sites to all 67 KTDA factories. The programme will also develop a series of new trainings for factory floor staff, build a collection of case studies to share information and stories on best practices, and support exchange visits for inter-factory learning.