With COP21 in full swing my attention is fully focused on all things climate change. Having worked in this field since leaving university the discussions are all consuming for me. I was extremely interested to hear that the president of the World Bank has highlighted the need for innovative solutions to the linked challenges of climate change, poverty, and food insecurity. As part of this he has pledged a $5.7 billion investment plan (their contribution to the $16 billion needed) to tackle climate change in Africa, which will include investment in climate smart agriculture.
In Kenya, we have been supporting smallholder tea farmers with climate smart agriculture for the past 5 years. I was in Kenya a couple of weeks ago and it was really exciting to see and hear how the benefits of this work is being felt by so many tea farmers a few years after our project finished.
Travelling through the tea growing areas I could see many more shade trees than on previous visits. These trees help to protect the tea from both frost and sun damage, and help prevent soil erosion from destructive rains.
Diversification is also a key initiative in supporting smallholders become more resilient and I saw training on planting and growing of tomato trees, macadamia, and avocado whilst attending a farmer field school graduation event.
I’m now gearing up to take this valuable work to other countries with the first stop being India. At our summer conference TEAM UP there was a key message from the Indian tea sector that help is needed in adapting to climate change, both for smallholder tea farmers and large-scale tea plantations/estates. This has kick started a climate change adaptation programme in India that we hope to launch at Easter in Calcutta. Having seen the value of the work that we have delivered in Kenya, I’m really excited to see how we can build on this to benefit the Indian tea sector, and other countries where our members buy tea.