Trustea, a domestically developed and owned sustainability code, and verification system for the country’s tea sector, had verified 608 million kg of tea till end-February. Trustea has found that tea as being “sustainable and safe”. The amount of tea verified is about 46 percent of the country’s annual output.
The Trustea programme is jointly led by The Sustainable Trade Initiative, Hindustan Unilever, and Tata Global Beverages (TGBL).
Trustea supports smallholders and estates in improving the competitiveness of tea gardens by positively influencing the practices and scale of production, farm organisation, processing, new technologies and supply chain development.
Rajesh Bhuyan, Trustea general manager said, “A rising demand for food safety and sustainable produce is making Trustea increasingly relevant in the Indian context. The code ensures long term sustainability of the industry by improving the tea growing practices of the fast-growing smallholder segment and mainstreaming the bought leaf factories and small estates into the sustainability fold.”
Highlighting the need to adopt sustainable practices in the tea sector, S Soundararajan, Director — Tea Development, at the Tea Board of India, said, “India produces about 1,325 million kg of tea annually, making it the most consumed beverage. Competition in the domestic market, shortage of labour in the plantations and adverse effects of climate change are the major concerns for maintaining tea quality, which is essential for consumer health.”
Tata Global Beverages, one of the key partners of the Trustea programme, has committed to source 100 percent of its tea as Trustea verified for the Indian market.
Ramesh Bojarajan, President of the Bought Leaf Tea Manufacturers Association, pointed out that the Trustea certification has nothing to do with realising a better price for the produce vis-a-vis the Rainforest Alliance, non-governmental organisation operating in more than 70 countries that works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods. The alliance ensures a premium price at auctions and enables direct export of produce. “We have raised this concern with officials who came here for surveys. They have informed us that by 2020, buyers would accept only tea with Trustea certification.”