News / 24 July 2011

Organic tea has good possibilities in Sri Lanka

In the course of centuries, traditions around the serving and drinking of tea have become a permanent feature of different cultures around the world. The production of tea however causes many problems: deforestation, soil and water pollution because of excessive use of pesticides, and tea pickers often working in bad working conditions with very low wages. On the 18th of July, a symposium called "Transforming Sri Lanka's Tea Sector To Meet New Market Realities" was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka.


Since 2004 Both ENDS has been working with major tea plantation companies (TTEL-Hayleys and Greenfield-Lanka Organics), the Baddagama small holder tea growers Cooperative, the NGOs Rainforest Rescue International and Forest Gardens Tea Ltd. to develop production methods of socio-ecologically sustainable high end market tea.

The main feature of the methods tested is that a variety of trees and plants is planted along with the tea trees. This way the natural functions of soil, water and biodiversity are maintained and this preservation of the natural environment improves the living standards of workers and local farmers. The tea produced in this way are labeled 'beyond organic'. This ensures that it is not only organically produced, but also that the biodiversity has been maintained and CO2 emissions has been minimized.

At the symposium in Colombo, the pilot results were shared with around hundred attendees. The project is supported by the Dutch Government (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) within the framework of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) of the United Nations. Delegates of the Dutch embassy attended, as well as tea producers, the involved NGO's including Both ENDS and a delegation of Sri Lankan ministries. All attendees seem to agree that there are good opportunities for an organic tea sector in Sri Lanka, it is now up to entrepreneurs to seize opportunities and possibilities.


foto: Larra Jungle Princess

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