Having taken over the ETP climate change portfolio from my colleague Rachel Cracknell, who’s on maternity leave, I found the recent article, Why climate change is bad news for India tea producers on the BBC website really interesting.

The story together with writing reports about our climate change adaptation project really made me think how ‘man-made’ climate change (I can’t believe there’s still sceptics still out there) is affecting tea producers both in terms of increasing costs and having to change farming methods.

Current suitability for tea productionThe article underlines many of the things we discovered with our own climate change adaptation project in Kenya with GIZ1. At the start of the project back in 2010, one of the first objectives was to map the current tea producing regions and predict how they would look by 2050 using climate models. This ultimately showed which areas would struggle to sustain tea production without intervention. These maps helped convene a meeting for all the relevant stakeholders in Kericho, Kenya to look at what needed to be done to help smallholders and the industry become more resilient to the effects of climate change.

Suitability in 2050Changing weather patterns and tea growing conditions

It’s clear that both Indian and Kenyan producers and smallholder farmers are being affected by changing weather patterns. Rainfall is less evenly spread; dry periods are getting longer; destructive rainfall, which can damage tea bushes and erode topsoil, is on the increase; and in the case of Kenya, frost is increasingly problematic.

In India pests and disease are causing big problems for producers as climate change worsens. In Kenya this isn't currently a problem. However, Kenyan producers are concerned that climate change will lead to outbreaks of pests leading to lower yields and the need to start using pesticides.

How we helped - climate change adaptation (a 3-year project with GIZ)

The ETP GIZ1 project, which originally set out to train about 50,000 farmers from 5 Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) factories, ended up training more than 100,000 farmers across 10 factories due to new partnerships with Marks & Spencers and International Trade Centre2 (ITC). KTDA also committed to embedding climate change training in their Farmer Field School curriculum. Ultimately this means that every one of the +500,000 farmers in KTDA will have access to climate change adaptation and/or GAP training.

Supporting smallholder tea farming communities

Using KTDA’s training and support structures we provided training on good agricultural practice and practical adaptation methods. This included: installing drip irrigation, rainwater harvesting, kitchen gardens, composting and mulching, access to energy efficiency stoves, and the planting of shade trees etc.

What we achieved:Tree saplings at nursery

  • +100,000 farmers trained on climate change adaptation (CCA) and good agricultural practices (GAP)
  • +3,500,000 trees planted or growing in nurseries ready for planting
  • 600,000 drought and frost resistant tea clones distributed to farmers or in nurseries
  • +25,000 energy efficiency stoves installed
  • Won Tea Board of Kenya Awards for Best Practices in Climate Change Mitigation
  • Won M&S award for best innovative climate change project Kanyenyaini manager receives Tea Board of Kenya award
  • Delivered manual: Adapting to Climate Change Manual

In a further extension to this project we also partnered with the ITC on a project to help tea-processing factories and farmers mitigate climate change.

Please keep an eye out for case studies about these climate change projects in the coming weeks.


1 German Development Agency on behalf of German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development
2 Joint agency of the World Trade Organization and United Nations