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Most tea is grown on estates or plantations in Asia and Africa. It is common for workers on tea plantations to live and work on the plantation year round, often in the poorest conditions with no access to education or health care. While many countries require that tea workers are paid a minimum wage, these laws are often not enforced, leaving workers with no protections or legal recourse. Over 120,000 tea pickers have been able to improve their lives by benefiting from the Fair Trade system.
Fair Trade Tea Cooperative
Makaibari Tea Garden
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The Makaibari tea garden lies in the Darjeeling hills of Northeastern India. In continuous operation since 1859, Makaibari is one of the oldest of all Indian tea gardens. The garden is home to 610 teaworkers and their families.
The Makaibari tea garden is a pioneer in innovative management. As early as 1971, garden manager Rajah Banerjee made the decision to switch production to a 'permaculture' based system, and since 1991 production has been 100% organic and biodynamic. Mr. Banerjee lives on the garden and takes great pride in the high quality of Makaibari teas, which have consistently been ranked among the best of all Darjeeling teas.
The premium they earn through sales of Fair Trade teas has enabled the worker community at Makaibari to take an active role in improving their own lives. Projects the Makaibari workers have financed through Fair Trade include:
“We give our tea plantation constant, and natural, assistance with biodynamic techniques. One look at our land, even to the unschooled eye, will show a forest teeming with wildlife and plant life, a bounty of the sky with butterflies and birds, and all these synergistic life forces show up in the cup.” —Rajah Banerjee, Owner and Manager, Makaibari
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