Blog / 1 September 2011

Satisfied, I drink my tea

Satisfied, I drink my tea

Producing Forest Garden Tea and bringing it to market is the underlying ambition of the partnership. However, Forest Garden Tea does more than merely reducing pesticide use and improving the working conditions on the plantations. In fact, the name says it all; the initiative actually restores degraded tea plantations by mimicking the original forest growth, using commercial crops and crops that are suitable for immediate use, such as cinnamon, lemongrass and tomatoes. This allows farmers and plantations to diversify their income base and produce more than just pesticide-free tea.

The partnership had a rocky start. To help the initiative through the first years, we had to deal with misunderstandings between the management of tea plantations and local organisations, find potential customers in Europe, get them interested in the product and keep them interested, and overcome the uncertainties of working in new ways, faced by the plantation workers.

The producers involved now praise the initiative, which has given the Sri Lankan tea industry a practical and surprising boost, which was much needed. After all, the Sri Lankan tea industry has been struggling to stay competitive in the world market in recent years. The Forest Garden Tea initiative demonstrates that it's possible to produce conventional crops in new ways. Moreover, it shows that civil society organisations can play a key role in change processes and -thinking.

One sixth of Sri Lanka's population is dependent on the production of tea. At present, the Forest Garden Tea that we drink is a tiny trickle compared to the total volume of tea that Sri Lanka produces. Both ENDS, RRI, Greenfield Bio Plantations and ProFound aim to broaden the stream; in the interests of all tea drinkers in the Netherlands, but above all, in the interests of Sri Lanka's people and environment.


Photo by mat.teo on

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