Simon and Esther Langat of Nyanza Province, Kenya, are a husband-and-wife smallholder team who produce for the Momul Tea Factory, which was the first smallholder tea factory to achieve Rainforest Alliance certification in 2009. Here, Simon shares their story.
"I have a two-acre farm, which I have had for 28 years. We plant vegetables and raise cows, but tea is our main source of income; it allows us to pay school fees and to provide employment to three workers who pluck our tea. I teach at the local school but my wife is fully engaged at the farm. During the holidays, our children, who are in college, come home to help.
Rainforest Alliance certification is good because it emphasizes environmental conservation, water harvesting, worker welfare and proper disposal of waste. We used to use longer plucking intervals, but the Rainforest Alliance taught us to use a seven- to eight day-plucking interval, and because of that my yield has doubled. We also learned how to conserve water—in fact, I bought a water tank for harvesting rain water, and I built a bio-gas unit to create renewable energy for cooking. Around my farm I have also planted indigenous trees. I have bought personal protective equipment for my pluckers, and they are happier. Finally, the Rainforest Alliance trainings taught me to keep records: now I always record my daily yields, and that encourages me to improve. My neighbors have learned from us and are now using some of these practices, too. I hope to be a role model for environmental conservation."