Our amazing Tea Guy James has just returned from working in the tea gardens of India, to expand his (already rather impressive) understanding of the process of growing tea. Below he tells us about his recent time in Assam, at a Fairtrade organic tea estate.
“I’ve now returned from my time in Assam, and it was really fascinating. I’ve just visited a newly certified Fairtrade garden, the only one among a hundred others in the area, which also happens to be the only organic and Fairtrade tea garden in South Assam.
At first the locals were very sceptical about becoming Fairtrade, but now they can enjoy the benefits, such as the premiums coming in and the factory, which is far superior to others in the area, and much coveted!
A recent Fairtrade project means twelve cows and twelve calves are coming in from Bihar, as local cows only produce a litre of milk per day, and this breed of cow can produce almost ten times that. The surplus milk will be sold for extra income, and the manure will be purchased by the estate.
During the monsoon the flooding can be so bad that it floods all the way between Silchar and the estate, which is a two hour drive. The manager in the past has taken a boat, with wages and food, five hours to the garden through the floods!
The organic practices I’ve observed here are very different to others which I have seen, with special practices used for drawing nitrogen from the soil, for fighting mites, and for helping the bushes recover from terrible hail storm which happened early in May.
I have once again found my time in India to be inspiring and informative, and can’t wait to return!”