I am here in the salubrious climate of Kericho, Kenya along with a team of 19 other Sri Lankans consisting of Producers, CEO's, Trade Unionists, and NGO's all connected with the tea industry. We’re here to learn about the different approaches and mechanics employed in the Kenyan tea sector with a view to overcoming some of the challenges the tea industry is faced with back home.
If you have read Jim Delaney’s blog then you will appreciate that many of the challenges the Sri Lankan industry faces were identified at a workshop titled, "An Industry in Transition - the Future of the Plantation Community" hosted by CARE, WUSC and ETP.
Whilst WUSC organised this study tour, with financing made possible by the Government of Canada, the team was able to access ETP contacts, resources and logistical expertise in order to arrange the itinerary here in Kenya, which would have been virtually impossible without the ETP African team. ETP's credibility and recognition both in Kenya and Sri Lanka paved the way for this study tour, and to this end we are grateful to my colleagues Wagurah and Jane.
It’s the first time that everyone on the tour party (except one) has been to Kenya, and as you can imagine there is a lot of excitement and enthusiasm about seeing different approaches first-hand. During the visit we will visit the Tea Research Foundation of Kenya and the Tea Board of Kenya. We’ll also look at environmental management systems including wastewater filtration, tea packing processes, smallholder farms, and outgrower models. Our trip culminates with us attending a farmer field school graduation ceremony followed by a Marks & Spencer’s workshop in Nairobi where ETP will present on climate change and wages.
Our findings from the study tour will be disseminated at a workshop in Colombo later in the year.