Report from India (Part 2): Improving Conditions on Tea FarmsDecember 21, 2010
Tensie Whelan visits Rainforest Alliance Certified tea estates in the mountains of southern India, where she encounters wildlife now benefitting from forest conservation measures on tea estates.
The clouds hang heavy in the Nilgris hills, which look blue through the morning mist. They are planted with tea bushes that run in vertical rows. Original forests wend their way through the canyons that fold along waterways. It’s a magical place.
We visit the Havukul and Glendale Estates, both of which have been selling their leaves to Lipton ever since the company committed to sourcing Rainforest Alliance Certified tea.
At Havukul, the estate managers are proud of their new worker housing. Roofs have been replaced, access to potable water has been improved and waste disposal issues have been addressed.
As the manager explains, they have begun to measure water consumption and waste generation. Since they had not monitored those indicators before certification, until recently they had no idea how much waste was generated.
They’ve replaced leaky pipes, instituted recycling programs and built a new facility to house agrochemicals and protect workers from toxicity. The Glendale Estate has made similar improvements, while offering a one percent bonus plan for workers who recycle their waste.
Both estates have beautiful forest remnants on their properties, which host wildlife species including tigers Glendale has set up a wildlife drinking pond and reforested key habitat areas. In their children’s education program, students on the farm and in the community learn about wildlife, the environment and recycling.