Argentina / Ariculture / Tea

Look into your tea cup and see the world in the golden liquid.

Drinking a cup of tea is such an every day, almost routine habit for most of us.  Whether it’s the “pick me up” of the first drink of the day or the comforting drink when your day gets tough, how often do you stop and wonder about where those black, green or red leafs in your cup come from?  I’m sure many people could name India, China or Sri Lanka.  Some might even be able to think of Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa: but Argentina?  Yes Argentina is a major tea growing nation and tea from Argentina often finds its way into your morning cuppa.

Recently two major tea growing groups have been keen to celebrate the benefits of Rainforest Alliance certification.  Both Imaflora and the Té de Misiones have seen real social, economic and environmental benefits from operating under Rainforest Alliance certification.  We’re delighted with the progress they have made and want to share that success with you.  Here are extracts from the two letters we have recently received from Imaflora and Té de Misiones.

Aristóbulo del Valle, March 1, 2010

Mr. Lineu Siqueira Jr.

Adjunct Secretary

Imaflora

Ref.: Benefits of RFA certification

For your consideration:

At present we have more than 1900 ha of certified tea, coming from 172 farms that are owned by 105 farmers, geographically distributed in the regions of San Vicente, Aristóbulo del Valle, Campo Grande and Jardín América, all in Misiones province.

For the crop season that is now finishing, we will have produced more than 22,000 tons of green tea shoots of certified origin, which is 31% more than the prior season, and 400% more since we began. In terms of black tea, this will mean approximately 4,200 tons.

It is very clear that RFA certification addresses social and environmental aspects, but if right now we must identify something that certification contributed, I should emphasize that this has been in the economic realm.

It is very easy to verify that the farms under certification have increased their yields notably, beyond the contributions made by the climate. They have also suffered fewer pest attacks and as a result, the farmers have had less work to combat pests (and lower costs, of course).

Furthermore, the quality of the raw material has improved notably, which has led to an improvement in the quality of the black tea that has received the approval of international buyers.

It is undeniable that favorable environmental impacts have contributed to the aspects mentioned above: covered soils, conserved and recovered ecosystems, biodiversity and active fauna contributing to pest control, responsible agrochemical use, better cultural techniques, integrated pest management, fertilization programs based on soil analyses and sound waste management, are the foundation of the benefits mentioned above.

Major changes have also been made for the occupational health of the farmers, since they are now working with personal protection elements when applying agrochemicals, they use agrochemicals responsibly with respect to health and the environment, have access to potable water or at least to purification systems, they have incorporated systems for safety in using harvesters and means of transport and they have acquired important knowledge for the recognition and handling of medical emergencies.

Today the farmers’ families participate in the knowledge acquired, with children and wives warning about possible risks to health and the environment in the different tasks that are being carried out, and they propose ways to minimize them, through the countless talks given for training.

Victor H. Tschirsch, Té de Misiones manager commented, “Our Farmers are proud of this certification because it reflects them as people that can see and trust [in] their farms as a way of living, not only for them but also for future generations,” he went on to say, “One of the farmers told me that he was surprised to see how many species were growing on his farm’s protected area ever since the natural regeneration of the land started a year ago; even those endangered species like the Incienso tree.”

Té de Misiones has also seen benefits including “natural rebirth on protected areas”, “recuperation and preservation of water systems, like creeks, lagoons and springs”, “Actions to guarantee clean, filtered water consumed on properties belonging to certification projects”, “health and security seminars for the certification’s producers and farmers”, and “factories guarantee … to purchase basic products from producers that are members of the certification”.

So next time you enjoy a cuppa with tea produced on Rainforest Alliance farms pause for a moment and think of the positive impact we’re having on the wildlife, environment and tea farmers and their families on tea estate around the world.

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