As unpredictable weather conditions continue to hit Kenyan crops, one local tea factory is mobilizing their farmers to better deal with these challenges in the onset of worsening climate change impacts.
The Rukuriri Tea Factory enlisted in the help of outsourced experts who have experience dealing with precarious farming conditions, hoping that the transfer of knowledge leads to improved practices. With support from the Rainforest Alliance, a non-profit organisation operating out of New York City, 3000 of their farmers will undergo a training and certification program, which would in turn allow them to sell their tea to buying centres.
“Poor farming practices and land use in the protected areas have interfered with the natural ecological processes including continued river flow, erosion control, water purification, crop yield, and farmers’ health,” said Abraham Fundi, a tea farmer from Embu County and one of the agents hired to help out the Rukuriri Tea Factory. “We now need proper land use, better farming practices and waste management in the tea growing regions.”
Some tea farmers have grown increasingly frustrated with their crop turnout caused by unpredictable weather, even leading some to consider replacing them with different crops. Hoping to curb some of their frustrations, the trainings will teach farmers improved farming methods such as waste management techniques.
The Rukuriri Tea Factory, a fair-trade certified enterprise since 2008, currently employs 9000 farmers. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 500,000 smallholder tea farmers are currently “confronting enormous uncertainty about their livelihoods” throughout Kenya.