The Potong Tea Garden, Darjeeling
343 family farmers
In the foothills of the Himalayas, the Potong Tea Garden was once a colonial plantation. Since 2005, the tea garden is now collectively run by its workers, paving a stronger, more democratic path forward for the community. Their challenge: build a new tea system out of a decaying and crumbling colonial plantation model.
A new framework that revolves around worker involvement, participation, and ownership was conceived. This revolutionary concept is not only critical to the success of Potong, but is important for the development of the larger Darjeeling tea community.Prem Tamang of Tea Promoters of India
Not only this revolutionary model generates significant improvements for the garden’s 343 workers and their families, but the seeds planted in Darjeeling, could help spark a badly needed transformation of the tea industry. We believe partnerships such as these hold the key to the future of a fair and equitable tea system.
Prem Tamang of Tea Promoters of India, explained, “The predominant ownership and management model for tea gardens in Darjeeling is rooted in colonial history. In view of the changing cultural, political, and economic climate, a new framework that revolves around worker involvement, participation, and ownership was conceived. This revolutionary concept is not only critical to the success of Potong, but is important for the development of the larger Darjeeling tea community.”
TPI is a Darjeeling-based family operation that manages six organic, Fair Trade tea gardens. In addition, TPI is supporting small tea farmers by helping them gain access to international markets and a fair price for their tea. They consistently think out of the box in an effort to create non-plantation alternatives for tea. Equal Exchange tea has decided to work with and buy from those TPI’s small farmer projects: Potong Tea Garden and The Small Farmer Tea project
Read more about Potong on Equal Exchange’s Small Farmers. Big Change. blog.
The Small Farmer Tea Project (SFTP), Kerala
1,008 family farmers
The members of the Small Farmer’s Tea Project (SFTP) in Kerala, are predominantly marginalized small producers and members of tribal groups who have suffered from social and economic injustice for generations. The goal of the SFTP is to bring its members economic growth and control.
The mountainous region of Kerala is environmentally sensitive and is experiencing massive erosion, deforestation, and acute water shortages. The SFTP is working to promote changes in growing practices to alleviate the environmental damage and rebuild the area. SFTP is also part of the broader Peermade Development Society, a project of the Indian Diocese of the Catholic Church.
PT Mega Inovasi Organik
2,500 family farmers
Product: Coconut sugar
We’ve partnered with PT Mega Inovasi Organik to source our coconut sugar. They work with more than 2500 fair trade and organic farmers in Indonesia on the Island of Java.
The coconut sugar, which replaces all the cane sugar in our Coconut milk chocolate bar, is an alternative sugar produced from a traditional process.
The harvest and production are very labour intensive. Twice a day, the farmers climb up to the crowns of the coconut palms. They empty the bamboo containers that have filled up since the last harvest and make a fresh knife cut in the coconut flowers so that the sap flows better and the flowers don’t dry out.
Coconut sugar is the crystallized nectar of the coconut palm tree blossom that is made by a simple boiling, cooling, and grinding process. It has been used as sugar in South-East Asia for many centuries, most particularly in Indonesia. Coconut sugar doesn’t taste like coconut. It as a sweet caramel taste, as coconut sugar doesn’t come from the coconut meat, but rather from the nectar of the flowers on the coconut palm tree.
Check out this short video that explains the harvesting and processing of the organic coconut sugar:
1,600 family farmers
Product: Tea (Equal Exchange), cinnamon and ginger spices (ingredients in Camino products)
SOFA (Small Organic Farmers Association) is a dedicated organic farmer group that grows a variety of organic crops including tea, pepper, cloves, cinnamon and ginger under Fair Trade principles.
It was founded in 1997 with 183 farmers by Dr Sarath Ranaweera. SOFA is located in the central region of Sri Lanka. In 2014, Dr. Ranaweera was awarded the Fairest Fairtrader of the World award at the first-ever Fairtrade Awards ceremony held in Bonn Germany.
We have been collaborating with SOFA to provide organic spices as ingredients to Camino products since 2008.
800 family farmers
Coconut from Sri Lanka is known for its unique, delicious, exotic flavor and creamy natural taste, in addition to its full complement of fats, proteins, carbohydrates and other benefits. Camino sources coconut from MOPA (Marginalized Organic Producer Association) in Sri Lanka.
MOPA is an organization consisting of integrated producer societies established by marginalized producers and workers from small biodynamic estates managed by Seethavally Bio Dynamics Pvt Ltd (subsidy of Bio Foods Pvt Ltd). Marginalized producers are the small farmers, and medium scale producers with less than 50 permanent employees, who undergo difficulties in obtaining a justifiable price for their product in the market. MOPA brings together and connects these small and medium scale farming communities in Sri Lanka with product end-users, in order to contribute to the enhancement of natural process organic production, while encouraging sustainable development.
Members of MOPA dedicate 75% of their fairtrade premium to fund projects proposed by the farmers themselves with a significant portion being allocated directly to individual farmers. Their primary focus is to improve productivity, product quality and sustainable production methods by improving the living conditions of the farmers. The remaining 25% of the premium is used as a management fund.
In 2014, MOPA received the award for “Best Small Producer Organization in Asia” at the Fairtrade Awards ceremony held in Bonn Germany as recognition for their great work and achievements.