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Climate change mitigation and adaptation in the Kenyan tea sector

  • Climate change mitigation and adaptation in the Kenyan tea sector

    by Amanda Mckee

    Tuesday, 16 Apr. 2013

    (Originally posted on 27 July 2012)
    ITC has recently partnered up with the Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP), Rainforest Alliance and FLO-CERT to support smallholder tea farmers to both adapt to and mitigate the climate change impacts associated with their supply chains. In this post, we explain our motivation for starting this project and what it will involve.

    The impact of climate change on Kenyan tea farmers

    Climate change is expected to have a significant impact on global tea production. Because tea relies on well distributed rainfall, increased temperatures and changes to rainfall patterns will influence both the quantity and quality of tea production, posing a threat especially to vulnerable smallholder tea farmers. For instance, in Kenya, farmers are already reporting impacts on the quality and quantity of the tea they produce. As global temperature rise further, it is predicted that these impacts will intensity as farmers experience more frequent droughts and pest infestations. Over time, these changes are expected to have implications on where tea can be planted, resulting in some traditional tea growing areas becoming unsuitable for tea growth (e.g. west of the Rift Valley in Kenya). Consequently, producers will have to make considerable adaptations to their existing practices to continue to meet global demand and quality requirements.

    At the same time, a growing number of companies and consumers are interested in understanding the climate change impact of the goods they produce and consume. Many new market requirements, including product carbon footprinting standards, have started to emerge in developed countries and emerging economies. While these new market requirements can offer opportunities to increase efficiencies along the supply chain, for smallholders, including tea farmers, they can be costly and technically complex to comply with.

    Existing climate change work

    Efforts are currently being made to assist Kenyan tea farmers to adapt to climate change. In 2011, the Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) and the German development agency GIZ formed a three year public private partnership (PPP) to work with five Kenyan Tea Development Agency (KTDA) factories, to support climate change adaptation in the tea sector.

    Significant work has also been undertaken to assist smallholders to mitigate their climate change impact, however, this work is not directed at the tea sector specifically. For instance, efforts include the SAN Climate Module developed by Rainforest Alliance and the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) promoting sustainable agricultural production; the capacity building work carried out by FLO-CERT producers on carbon footprinting; and ITC’s technical paper on Product Carbon Footprinting Standards helping companies mitigate their climate change impact in response to new market requirements.

    Introducing a new ITC project on climate change mitigation and adaptation

    Dedicated resources on climate change mitigation in the tea sector are currently not available for tea farmers. ITC, ETP, Rainforest Alliance and FLO-CERT have partnered up to address this need and to ultimately make supply changes more robust to increasing environmental pressures and to support smallholder farmers to meet new and emerging market requirements around climate change.

    As a starting point, the project partners will first create a much needed set of tools and resources to support the tea sector in addressing climate change mitigation. By bringing together different organizations, standards and certification schemes, the project will work to ensure a consistent and integrated approach is developed to support small-scale producers to address the challenges ahead.

    In the second phase of the project, the project partners will aim to train approximately 10,000 smallholder tea farmers within the KTDA network on adaptation and mitigation and then ultimately support them in the implementation of adaptation and mitigation options at the factory and smallholder farmer level.

    This project has the potential to deliver a far and wide reaching impact. In addition to creating a much needed set of tools and resources to support the tea sector in addressing climate change, it will also fill an important gap in supporting farmers to meet newly emerging market requirements around climate change. By utilizing the project partners’ various networks, producers will be in a better position to demonstrate the added value of their sustainably produced tea.

    For the latest updates on this project you can visit ITC’s Trade and Environment website or follow us on Twitter: @ITCenvironment.

    You can also follow Alex on Twitter


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