About 200 women smallholder farmers (SHFs), associated with two bought leaf factories Tamil Nadu’s Nilgiris district are being steadily empowered through training on implementation of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs).
In a press release, Trustea – India’s sustainable tea programme, said that introduced in 2013, the programme has ensured that more than 14,000 smallholder farmers, including 3,500 women farmers in South India have access to formal training opportunities on sustainable farm practices focused on environment, safety and livelihoods. “The Trustea programme, a voluntary certification, backed by Unilever is an India specific sustainability code for the Tea industry with a multi-stakeholder model,” the press release said.
“This programme comes at an opportune time, when an increasing number of women-owned businesses are slated to contribute to the country’s economy, with rural agripreneurs identified as a distinct segment – working as a critical catalyst to modernise agriculture and the rural ecosystem,” the press release added.
The training programmes include a range of topics, including the usage of water, appropriate use of fertilizers for effective nutrient management, soil testing, safe handling of agro-chemicals, use of PPE (personal protective equipment) while applying fertilizers and integrated pest management.
Trustea’s interventions have helped to reduce fertilizer application by almost 30% in Thummanatty, while helping a small farmer. They also helped to eliminate spraying herbicides near waterbodies in order to eliminate the possibility of water contamination.
Through the interventions, the SHFs are complying with a notified wage of ₹ 328/day for tea workers, while for plucking, which is the preferred mode of employment for workers, the wage is fixed at ₹ 6-7/kg of green leaf.
Since most of the small farmers do not have irrigation and rely on rain, the programme has also helped to guide them to follow the practices of water conservation by adopting sustainable agricultural practices, the press release from Trustea said.
Ashish Gupta, Procurement Director- South Asia, Unilever, said that sustainable agricultural practices can also help in addressing climate change.