Solidaridad Asia in partnership with the Indian Tea Association organizes its First India International Small Tea Growers’ Convention in Kolkata
~Experts from the tea industry deliberated on the challenges faced by small tea growers & discussed solutions that can address the sustainability issues in the tea industry~
~The highlight of the event was a display of innovation in sustainable tea production and consumption which can empower smallholders. This included SoliTrace, a QR code technology that facilitates direct communication between consumers and producers, SoliProbe, an instant soil analyzer, SoliMet, a hyper-local weather station, SoliBot an interactive chatbot, and Ballotronix, an instant tea leaf reader~
Kolkata, 11 November 2022: Tea is the most consumed beverage in the world and employs millions of smallholder farmers. The small tea growers, in particular, face numerous economic, climatic, and other difficulties. A conference with more than 150 participants from across India and several other countries, including Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, and Nepal, was held in Kolkata to discuss and address these challenges.
The inaugural session of the day-long Convention was graced by Dr. Shatadru Chattopadhayay, Managing Director, Solidaridad Asia, Ms. Nayantara Palchoudhuri, Chairperson, Indian Tea Association (ITA) & TRINITEA Programme Committee, Atul Asthana, Vice Chairman, ITA, Hemant Bangur, Additional Vice Chairman, ITA, Arijit Raha, Secretary General, ITA, Henry Heyneardhi, Partnership Director, Indonesian Tea Marketing Association, Senaka Alawattegama, Chairman, Planters’ Association of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Shah Alam, Chairman, Bangladesh Tea Association, Suresh Mittal, Chairman, Nepal Tea Producer’s Association, and Bijoy Gopal Chakraborty, President, Confederation of Indian Small Tea Growers Association (CISTA), among others. All Assam Small Tea Growers Association and All Bodoland Small Tea Growers Association, Jalpaiguri District Small Tea Growers Association and Small Tea Growers Association of South India along with several other small tea growers’ representatives from Assam, West Bengal and South India also attended the convention.
Through interactive sessions, the participants discussed the role of smallholder farmers in the tea industry and ways to promote their health and well-being and make their businesses environmentally sustainable.
Dr. Shatadru Chattopadhyay, Managing Director, Solidaridad Asia, said, “Over a million small tea growers in India and from other countries depend on the tea industry for their existence. The tea business is critical to rural livelihood as well as the economy of the producing countries. Promoting long-term health, well-being, and environmental sustainability in the tea business should be a top priority, but the sector is facing a crisis because of persistently low tea prices, which are crushing the small tea farmers. Hence, to empower the farmers to turn their business into a purpose-driven brand, Solidaridad is planning to introduce SoliTrace as a part of TRINITEA, a make-in-India sustainability initiative involving smallholder tea farmers and a QR code technology that would allow consumers to interact with the tea producers, as well as learn about the safety and quality standards adopted. More than 92,000 small tea growers have already become members of TRINITEA programme and by the end of 2022, the target is to engage 1,00,000 small tea growers. Such innovation will gradually empower the small tea growers and workers’ associations by helping them build independent, democratic organisations, improve their negotiation position with buyers/employers, achieve economic stability, make joint investments, and increase their collective influence.”
At the conference, Solidaridad also introduced other innovative products specially designed for farmers like SoliProbe, an instant soil analyzer, SoliMet, a hyper-local weather station, SoliBot an interactive chatbot, and Ballotronix, an instant tea leaf reader. Solidaridad Asia wants to connect with more farmers and offer them affordable farmer-friendly innovative
solutions. To realize this aim, it has a dedicated team of engineers integrating mechanical, telecommunications, electrical, and electronics systems with robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning for the best results.
Stressing upon the challenges of the small tea growers, Ms. Nayantara Palchoudhuri, Chairperson ITA said, “The tea industry as a whole is being adversely impacted by factors that are detrimental to social development, economy, and environment. These factors include the growing effects of climate change, price stagnation, high input cost which has a bearing on the cost of production as well as the mismatch between demand and supply that results in oversupply. In addition, the industry has to bear high transaction costs while facing difficulties in realizing fair prices. Despite all these handicaps, the industry is committed to pursuing the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. Meanwhile, the way the ITA-Solidaridad partnership has been working on and bringing about a holistic development of the tea industry by way of overall improvement in the livelihoods of STGs – is commendable.”
At the convention, Bijoy Gopal Chakraborty, said, “I am extremely thankful to ITA and Solidaridad for organizing the first India International Small Tea Growers Convention and providing an opportunity to the smallholder tea growers from all tea-producing countries to share their experiences and success stories.”
The day-long event also saw technical sessions featuring presentations and talks by captains of the industry and experts including Small Grower representatives about various aspects of value and supply chains as well the innovative digital tools demonstrating their advantages. The event concluded with an award ceremony felicitating 15 small growers for their exceptional achievement in producing specialty teas followed by a cultural programme.
An exhibition of teas produced by the small growers was also organized and inaugurated by the Hon’ble Minister after the inaugural session
Who are Solidaridad
Solidaridad as a global sustainability organisationhas vast experience in supporting sustainability programmes nationally and internationally involving tea,among other commodities.Solidaridad has been a frontrunner in sustainable economic development and champions the cause of the small and marginal farmers, workers, and miners. The organisation fosters sustainable and inclusive supply chains, focusing on bringing prosperity, harnessing inclusivity, and producing in balance with nature.
With over 50 years of experience in developing solutions to make communities more resilient, Solidaridad employs around 1,000 expert staff as boots and brains on the ground, operating in over 40 countries across five continents through eight independently supervised regional offices. Recognising markets as pivotal to realising positive changes in the society and
environment, Solidaridad looks at public-private partnerships as an increasingly important mechanism for testing innovations, speeding up change, and taking success to scale. With improved scale and speed, the organisation aims to create a pervasive impact in society toward a more inclusive, climate-resilient, and sustainable economy.
A pioneer in developing and implementing national sustainability, Solidaridad engages in joint programmes with businesses, investors, governments, producers and producer organisations, service providers, labour unions, and other CSOs to bring about effective transformation in the agriculture and mining sectors towards sustainable farming and responsible mining practices.
Some details about the Indian Tea Association
Founded in 1881, the Indian Tea Association (ITA) is the premier and oldest Association of tea producers in India. ITA, since its inception, has remained the principal advisory and supervisory body in the tea industry. Initially set up to promote orderly growth and collective thinking in Tea, ITA has evolved into a progressive organization, incisively reading industry trends, encouraging innovative thought, benchmarking best practices and their adoption in the industry — thereby serving as a strong bridge between various segments of the tea industry, trade, and Government. ITA continues to discharge a multidimensional role, formulating policies and effectively liaising with the Tea Board, Central and State Governments, and a wide spread of quasi-Governmental and regulatory agencies.
ITA has also emerged as a driver of corporate social responsibility for the tea industry as a whole, administering several projects and programmes that strive to make a difference in the lives of people who reside within and around the tea estates. ITA has over the years reinforced its reputation as a research-backed think-tank for the tea industry, the resources, and competencies of which continue to be widely valued. ITA serves as the Secretariat of the Consultative Committee of Plantation Associations (CCPA) — the apex body of the tea producer Associations in India.