India's Tea Estates

Published: November 2010
In southern India, eight tea estates have earned Rainforest Alliance certification; all of them sell their leaves to Unilever for Lipton Yellow Label and PG tips brands. Workers on the Glendale Tea Estate benefit from social and healthcare programs, including an on-site hospital staffed with qualified doctors and nurses, an ambulance, and schools and daycare centers.
Eight tea estates in southern India are now Rainforest Alliance Certified. Here, a tea plucker uses shears to remove the tea leaves.
On the Rainforest Alliance Certified Kairbetta estate, workers are given tea during a break from plucking.
"Before certification, workers used chemicals without protective clothing and would return home, touch their children and pollute the water. They didn't realize the danger of the chemicals. Now, with signs on bottles, and with protective clothing, our workers are aware and always protect themselves." --Surrendra Mohan, Havukal & Warwick Estate Manager
The management of the Kairbetta Estate provides free medical aid for all family members of workers and pluckers as well as community-members who don't otherwise have access to healthcare. With a nurse on site permanently, any injury or illness is attended to quickly.
The Coonoor Tea Estate is upgrading worker housing and teaching workers about proper waste disposal. Since becoming Rainforest Alliance Certified, the tea estates in Coonoor have become much cleaner and now boast more wildlife. The reduction in pesticide use and adoption of efficient waste management systems has led to an increase in bird species as well as more frequent sightings of bison, leopards, deer and elephants.
Monkeys can be very mischievous on the tea estates. The Kairbetta tea estate is currently reroofing worker housing to ensure the monkeys cannot cause further damage.
The family-owned Havukal Tea Estate, located on the eastern slopes of the Nilgiris Hills, provides its employees with free housing and medical care. Children from the Havukal and Warwick estates have free access to a school run by teachers whose salaries are paid by the government. A total of 50 children attend the school, of which a third come from the local community and not from the estate.
Tea pluckers on the Rainforest Alliance Certified tea estates in the Coonoor region earn more than double the local minimum wage. They also benefit from decent housing and free medical care.

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