Photo credit: JusTea
Earlier this month Oxfam published a sobering report about wages paid to tea pickers. The report concluded that tea pickers in countries such as Malawi, India and Indonesia were either being paid below the World Bank’s poverty line indicator or they were making less than the average income of their country. As noted by The Grocer, the report found that tea pickers who worked on estates certified by Fairtrade International, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ Certified made no more than workers on non-certified estates. The Oxfam report is not all grim reading though. It discussed a newly-formed coalition comprised of major stakeholders that seeks to create awareness about labour issues in the tea industry amongst governments, unions, tea companies and retailers that will ultimately result in pickers earning higher wages.
Tea pickers, however, are not the only people losing out in the tea trade. Last week I had the pleasure of being in contact with an organisation called JusTea that is seeking to bring social justice to small-scale tea farmers in Kenya. According to JusTea, these farmers only make 1% of the overall profit as the tea goes from field to cup. JusTea’s main objective is to create a partnership that eliminates middlemen in the supply chain by teaching small-scale farmers how to process their raw tea on site and help them sell their tea directly to market. The end result will be that a larger profit goes to tea farmers.
To get this project going, JusTea is currently running a funding campaign on its website. The website contains a more detailed explanation of the project and how you can become involved through donation. You can also follow JusTea on Twitter or have a look at their Facebook page.
In its report Oxfam fully acknowledges that the situation of tea pickers is not going to improve overnight. This is also true for small-scale tea farmers. But with the newly-formed tea coalition and with organisations like JusTea working to create better deals for tea pickers and farmers, hopefully livelihoods will improve.