Supporting Kenyan farmers to overcome the impacts of climate change

There are around 650,000 small-scale tea farmers in Kenya. Climate change effects such as rising temperatures, droughts, frosts, shifting and unpredictable weather patterns as well as changes in pests and diseases threaten tea production.

The context

There are around 650,000 small-scale tea farmers in Kenya. Climate change effects such as rising temperatures, droughts, frosts, shifting and unpredictable weather patterns as well as changes in pests and diseases threaten tea production.

Deforestation is a key issue in this African country, and the areas where tea is grown are feeling the effect. Between 2001 to 2017 tree cover dropped by 10% in tea growing regions. Forests are being felled for fuelwood and to make way for other crops or infrastructure.

Our aims

We have a range of long-standing and far-reaching partnerships on climate change and environment in Kenya, spanning over a decade.

We help the tea industry, farmers and communities understand how climate change will affect them, and to implement approaches to adapt to its impacts. We work closely with tea communities to build their resilience to the effects of climate change, so that farmers can continue to provide for their families.

We help the industry and farmers increase their access to renewable energy, lower their reliance on fuelwood and reduce their carbon footprint. We support them to become more energy efficient and reduce their emissions. We also help the tea industry and communities to tackle deforestation.

Our Impact

Sustainable future

Current suitability for tea production in Kenya
Suitability for tea production in Kenya by 2050

One of our initial partnerships was with German Development Agency GIZ and the Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), to develop climate change forecasting maps. These assess how climate change will affect tea growing in Kenya up to 2050.

The maps sparked detailed discussions with the industry, farmers and key institutions including the Kenya Tea Research Association – culminating in a range of actions to enable the sector to prepare for the changes ahead.

Credit: Andy Hall

Supporting farmers

Our key focus is to support farmers to develop their farms so that they can continue to thrive and provide for their families in the long-term. We developed a large-scale partnership with GIZ, the International Trade Centre and the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA), which organises and supports 600,000 tea farmers.

We trained over 40,000 farmers on climate change issues and agricultural practices to mitigate its effects. KTDA run an effective Farmer Field School programme, where farmers train other farmers on a range of agricultural practices. By integrating our climate change training into this broader programme, approaches are permeating across the entire tea farming sector.

We supported farmers to plant over half a million drought and frost resistant tea clones. The clones are more resilient to unpredictable weather patterns, meaning farmers can continue to depend on tea to make their living.

Tea farmer Mary, who took part in ETP’s training says:

“I adopted the training to cope with climate change. I am so happy that I produced enough such that I do not disturb my children for daily needs”

Tackling deforestation

An important part of our work is to support farmers to develop their own supplies of wood and to regrow forest areas. In just the first three years of our programme, we helped farmers plant over 1 million trees. A further 2,500,000 seedlings were being raised in tree nurseries.

Credit: Andy Hall

We also installed 27,000 energy-efficient cookstoves in farmers’ homes – reducing their fuelwood consumption. Read more about how our initiatives ensure that farmers can continue to rely on tea to provide for them and their families.

Tea farmer Jane, who took part in ETP’s training says:

“Climate change should be addressed. My life was made better when you came. I saw the sense of having an energy saving cookstove. I cook faster and there is no smoke. My family feels we are on the right track”

Energy efficiency

To date, our work with Kenyan tea factories has saved 300,000 trees and $3.8 million every year. As farmers own these factories, this saving goes straight to their pockets. Read more about how we’re supporting the Kenyan tea sector to improve its energy efficiency.

Find out more

We have established several environmental initiatives across the Kenyan tea sector. Read how we are working with KTDA, and various public-private partnerships, to ensure that tea factories are energy efficient, and how these cost savings are directly going to farmers’ pockets.

Learn more about our work in our blog and in our case study.

Read more about ETP’s work on climate change  and the impact we’ve made on the tea industry.