Climate change as a result of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from human activity is one of the biggest threats to sustainable agriculture. Because tea is primarily a rain-fed crop tea production will be particularly affected unless early efforts are made to help farmers adapt.
A change in climate will lead to many adverse effects:
- Unpredictable rainfall patterns
- Delayed rain and drought
- Destructive rain including flooding and soil erosion (especially on steep contoured sites)
- Warmer temperatures and scorching effects on crops
- Increased instances of pests and disease
- Strong destructive winds and gales
We have entered a number of strategic partnerships that will provide information on climate change and its effects, and support producers and smallholder farmers to increase their resilience to the changing conditions. It’s estimated that this project work will reach up to 50,000 smallholder farmers. Below are some examples of our project work.
Helping smallholder farmer prepare for the effects of climate change, Kenya
In Kenya the effect of climate change is already being witnessed. In 2009 a drought in the Rift Valley was responsible for a fall in production of up to 30%.
Smallholder farmers, which account for up to 60% of tea harvested in Kenya, are particularly vulnerable. Consequently many of them may struggle to continue to make a sustainable living from tea unless they adopt new practices.
About the project
ETP and the German Development Agency (GIZ) have a 3 year, €390,000 public-private partnership that will give smallholders the tools and training to help smallholders to improve their farming practices and become more resilient to climate change. ETP is working with the Kenyan Tea Development Agency (KTDA) and using their training structures and promoter farmers to help the smallholder tea farming communities.
Mapping the areas that will be affected
At the start of the project climate modellers CIAT (The International Centre for Tropical Agriculture) mapped Kenya’s tea producing regions (based on climate alone) to predict which areas would be most affected by climate change in 2020 and 2050. Using this information we chose 5 KTDA factories and the smallholders that supply them to work with.
How we’re helping
Using KTDA’s extension officers, promoter farmers (peer to peer learning) and farmer field schools, smallholders will learn about good practice tea farming and the practical measures they can take to adapt:
- pruning and plucking techniques
- soil management & fertility
- gap filling & planting new varieties of drought and disease resistant tea bushes
- conserving biodiversity to increase the resilience of ecosystems
- promoting energy efficiency to help reduce deforestation
- introducing kitchen gardens to secure food supply and new income
Expanding our adaptation programme with M&S
Leading retailer Marks and Spencer commissioned us to run training workshops to help tea producers and farmers in their supply chains prepare for climate change. Training workshops will reach smallholder farmers from 4 cooperatives – 3 of which supply tea to KTDA factories.
The participatory workshops will support smallholders to:
- Assess their own vulnerabilities to climate change that could potentially inhibit their ability to grow tea sustainably
- Develop locally appropriate adaptation solutions using the ETP / GIZ adaptation toolkit
- Work with local stakeholders to implement the key initiatives they have identified
Working with Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance certification programmes
We have been commissioned by the International Trade Centre (ITC)* to develop resources that will support Kenyan tea farmers to address climate change mitigation. The project, which builds on our climate change work with GIZ, is in partnership with Rainforest Alliance and the Fairtrade labelling Organization (FLO), and will support farmers to adapt to climate change. This collaborative approach will also help to ensure the climate change principles are aligned for all the standards operating in tea.
*The International Trade Centre is a joint organisation of the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation