True sustainability in tea production repeals monoculture
In the Netherlands, people drink an average of 3 cups of tea per day. Sri Lanka is one of the well-known tea suppliers to the Netherlands. Sri Lankan tea is called Ceylon tea, due to the country’s official name until 1972.
Most of the current certification schemes for tea do not ensure sustainability of production of Ceylon tea. Plantation workers and farmers in cooperatives do not earn a living wage to support their families. Soils continue to be depleted, leading to erosion and decreasing harvests. In view of these issues, ProFound developed a truly sustainable value chain for Ceylon tea, going beyond the standard certification schemes.
Producing tea in a forest setting opens up income and food opportunities
ProFound supported a private tea estate and a tea cooperative to produce tea in a forest garden system. Our partners were Both Ends and Rainforest Rescue International. Different cash, food and soil improving trees were planted in the tea plantation. These plants support each other in one dynamic production system. For example, the trees provide shade to the tea, increasing quality and, as a result, price.
The project also provided estate worker communities with cattle. While the milk provided additional income and food, they could use the manure as natural fertilizer to minimize the dependence on external inputs.