After water, tea is the most popular drink in the world, with an estimated 70,000 cups
consumed every second. Nonetheless, tea producers and employees face significant
challenges in obtaining a decent wage. Tea is grown on huge plantations or estates
and plucked by hired laborers. It’s also cultivated on small plots of land by small-
scale farmers who sell their newly harvested green leaf to plantations or tea factories
to be processed into black tea.

The typical small-scale farmer’s farm in Africa is less than half the football field area.
Tea producers confront the issue of selling green leaves at low and changing prices
and a lack of influence in a tea supply chain controlled by multinational corporations.
The obstacles to labor in tea gardens differ depending on the origin. Workers may
endure poor pay, long hours, and a strained relationship with estate management.
They often rely on management for fundamental requirements such as housing,
healthcare, water access, and even their children’s education.

Due to the global demand for sustainable tea, producers that adhere to fair trade
rules may gain access to new markets, providing more excellent prices and rewards.
Fairtrade, for example, establishes a minimum price for most of its goods and gives farmers extra income to invest in the community. When utilized to repair roads and
bridges, this may help farmers interact with supply chain participants.

Farmer Field Schools in Kenya also assist farmers in learning how to adopt
sustainable agricultural practices, such as improved insect and soil fertility
management. The schools, established in 2006 by Kenya Tea Development Agency
Holdings Limited and partners, have assisted farmers in increasing yields. Studies
have also pushed farmers to collaborate to obtain equipment and sell their goods,
which may improve farm profitability.

Fairtrade Standards are intended to enhance working conditions and defend the
rights of plantation employees, as well as to assist members of small-scale
organizations in acquiring more significant control over tea supply chains and
increasing their revenue. Fairtrade tea standards function as a safety net against the
volatile market, guaranteeing producers always get a price that covers their
production expenses.

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