The India Sustainable Tea Program is a locally-developed and owned Indian sustainability tea Code. This meaningful, cost- effective and practical Code does not compromise globally accepted core sustainability standards.
It is envisioned that compliance with the Code will not only improve competitiveness for tea farms but also make it possible for them to comply with national regulations and in future international sustainability standards. The applicable control points under 11 chapters need to be adhered to within a three year period, resulting in complete compliance. The verification under the Code provides consumers with the assurance of responsible production and provides producers the opportunity to credibly demonstrate this to their customers.
Increasing number of consumers around the world are insisting that the products they buy are made from Tea Board of India supports the programme and strongly sustainable raw material. The effective delivery of the India believes that the effective implementation of the trustea Sustainable Tea program will:
Ensure the long term sustainability of the Indian tea industry, prepare for rising consumer demands for food safety and sustainably produced Indian tea.
Increase competitiveness of the Indian tea industry.
Realize livelihood improvement of tea workers.
Improve the tea growing practices of the fast growing smallholder segment and mainstreaming smallholders and small estates into the sustainability fold.
Ensure Indian tea can and will be produced in the generations to come.
Ownership: Code is developed, owned and managed by Indian tea industry stakeholders.
Food safety: Extensive focus on food safety components integrated into the Code.
Good manufacturing practices: Tea manufacturing and other effective practices covering tea factories integrated into one Code.
Lower certification cost: Innovative verification systems of external audits in alternate years and reduced cost due to the presence of locally-trained auditors.
Support: Investing in experienced field staff and field offices to assist producers in Code compliance.
The certificate holder will be the tea plantation company, the bought leaf factory (BLF), or the independent producer groups together with the factory. The entry-point of the Code for compliance will be the factories in estates, BLFs or grower group representatives having processing arrangements, who then work with production sites and smallholders respectively.
trustea is supported by the trustea Program Committee (TPC) and trustea Advisory Committee (TAC), both constituted of key Indian tea industry stakeholders committed to work together to enhance tea program accountability and credibility. The Tea Board of India chairs both the TPC and TAC.
The Indian tea industry recognizes that the journey towards achieving complete sustainability needs to start now.
The new Code has largely been modeled on current internationally recognized standards while taking into consideration Indian realities on the farm and in markets.
The India sustainability verification Code will be benchmarked against RA, UTZ and FLO; it will highlight steps to be taken by producers to move from compliance with the India Code to international certification Codes should they so desire.
Benchmarking trustea – trustea is now being benchmarked by ITC Standards (Joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations) and in the initial findings, trustea shows a strong alignment with the Rainforest Alliance and UTZ from the preliminary mapping done through the ITC Standard Map database.
The Code is developed in accordance with globally accepted principles and local stakeholder involvements, with clear social, economic and environmental objectives. The Code is administered through TPC and TAC.
The Code is based on Indian realities and existing legal provisions. References were drawn from existing global standards like Rainforest Alliance, Ethical Tea Partnership, UTZ Certified as well as the Unilever Sustainable Agriculture Code.
TAC is a forum comprising official representatives of key tea industry stakeholders - CCPA, ITA, UPASI, FAITTA, Tea Brokers and National Federation of Small Tea Growers / CISTA.
As part of Code development, six pilots, were identified in coordination with HUL and TGB to field test the program undertaken in three regions-West Bengal, Assam and Nilgiris covering large and small estates as well as smallholdings. The pilots are providing practical information on what works and what are the bottlenecks in reaching the objectives of the Code. Four pilot estates, two in Assam (Sundarpur and Tyroon) and two in South India (Erinkadu and Wentworth) have been verified. Two bought leaf factory (BLF) is under process, one in Assam (Surya) and the other in West Bengal, (Panbari). As in 2014 total volume verified 67.17 million kg covering an area of 35,762 Ha.
Those interested in adopting the Code may contact the trustea Secretariat.
The lead implementing partner, Solidaridad, is hosting the Secretariat of trustea in Kolkata. The Secretariat provides communication and secretarial support. It will also manage a website (www.trustea.org) for India Sustainable Tea Program and set up Code management systems. It is hoped that by the end of the program period, the Code will be self-administering and would be managed by the Indian tea industry.
The Code is designed towards a progressive achievement of complete compliance by year four. The “Mandatory” (highlighted in red) and “other criteria” have been divided into four parts covering eleven chapters. In each segment, the verified unit will need to meet 100 per cent of Mandatory control points and 50 per cent of other criteria in year 1, 65 per cent in year 2 and 80 per cent in year 3.
In the first year, the entity entering for verification needs to undertake external verification audits by auditors approved by the Code Secretariat as per the verification protocol and then such audits will be conducted every alternate year. In the years with no external audits, the verified unit must conduct internal audits and supply the audit report to the Indian trustea Code Secretariat.
An audit protocol has been created which specifies requirements for audit bodies, auditors, internal auditors, Internal Documentation System (IDS) managers, and other interested parties on procedures for trustea audit. Observance of these requirements is intended to ensure that audit bodies operate management system of trustea verification in a competent, consistent and impartial manner, thereby facilitating the recognition of such bodies and the acceptance of their certificates.
To support the audit process under trustea a few Audit Bodies have been identified and trained according to the requirements of the Code. They will audit the producer as per the agreed trustea protocol.
trustea India Sustainable Tea Program supports smallholders and estates in improving the competitiveness of tea gardens by positively influencing the scale of production, farm organization, processing, new technologies and supply chain development.
It aims to improve the livelihoods of smallholders and estate workers.
Improved consumer safety leading to reputational benefits and better consumer loyalty.
Better productivity addressing supply security.
Improved hygiene in factories addressing food safety issues.
Controlled and safe handling/use of pesticides.
Improved image of Indian tea locally and globally.