Tea is the world’s most popular drink (after water), with about 70,000 cups drunk every second. But there are many challenges in the industry that put tea farmers and workers at a disadvantage. Large tea estates can employ thousands of workers, but conditions can be poor and pay very low. Meanwhile, small-scale farmers rely on facilities at large estates for processing, meaning they have little control over their incomes and access to supply chains.
Fairtrade tea refers to all teas which stem from the leaves and buds of the Camellia sinensis plant. Fairtrade works with workers on plantations as well as with smallholder farmers to bring Fairtrade tea, to consumers around the world and India. These producer organisations create a local support mechanism that facilitate:
Access to markets
Access to finance
Better resource management
Better working condition
Since 1994, Fairtrade has been committed to bringing about change for tea producers. Our rigorous standards are designed to empower farmers and workers through sustainable production practices, environmental protection, and improved labour rights. Fairtrade certified tea producers receive the Fairtrade Minimum Price, which is meant to cover the costs of sustainable production and provides protection against price drops due to unstable global markets, as well as the Fairtrade Premium, an additional sum for collective use by plantation workers or small holder tea farmers.
Small-scale tea farmers invest most of their premium funds in farm and facility improvements, while workers on larger estates choose to provide direct services to themselves and their families, such as education and healthcare. Fairtrade also empowers farmers and workers in other ways, whether by opening new and more remunerative markets for small-scale farmers or supporting estate workers’ participation in collective bargaining, so they can strengthen their voice and work with management towards improved wages and working conditions.