It's hard for me to believe, but it was just less than a year ago when I went on my wonderful trip to Kericho, Kenya to see the Lipton tea estates there. The Rainforest Alliance was working with Lipton to have all of their tea production certified sustainable by the year 2015. The Rainforest Alliance has just announced another major committment in the tea producing community. Tetley Tea, which is the second largest tea company in the world has just committed to buying it's tea from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms.
This will cover Tetley tea bags as well as loose green, black and red tea and includes flavoured and decafinated tea. With 75 million cups of Tetley tea drunk each day, that's a big committment. The process of certification is complex and takes some time, so tea in the UK and Canada will have certified tea in 2011, followed by other markets such as Australia, the US and Europe by 2012. The whole process should be complete by 2016.
There are many difficult issues surrounding the production of tea, the treatment of workers, production that harms the environment, lack of eduction of farmers, and the Rainforest Alliance has had great success addressing these issues in Kenya so far. I visited a small holder tea plantation while there to see first hand how effective the Rainforest Alliance has been with their programme. Recently 38,000 smallholders In Kenya were certified.
Tensie Whelan, Rainforest Alliance president said:
"The tea industry has faced many challenges, from declining prices to poor farming and environmentally damaging practices. The Rainforest Alliance certification program assists farmers in addressing these issues and in reaching new value-added markets as well as focusing on improving productivity and significantly improving their quality of life. We are delighted with Tetley's huge commitment, which will help meet the demand for sustainability that the environment and tea farmers need and consumers obviously want."
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