Lipton Tea has partnered with the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) to encourage smallholders to produce tea more sustainably and profitably. Using expertise from the Tea Research Foundation of Kenya, a farmer field school (FFS) approach to extension was used to communicate sustainability guidelines to 450,000 smallholder farmers whilst encouraging them to find their own solutions to improve practices and share learnings with each other. This bottom-up approach resulted in the development of high levels of social capital, up to 35% increased annual yields and renewed focus on improved water and land management.
By early 2015 Rainforest Alliance (RA) certification had been granted to more than 300,000 farmers and all of KTDA’s factories. RA certification ensures that “farms and forests are managed according to rigorous environmental, social and economic criteria.” Farmers and workers are required to undertake additional training in best practice, and subsequently are paid at least the minimum wage, treated in compliance with national laws on worker conditions, and have been trained in pest management, conservation, and soil health improvement practices.