ETP has agreements in place with three key certification programmes operating in the tea sector (Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and Utz Certified) to reduce duplication and increase our joint impact. One of my roles is to ensure that if an ETP member wishes to source tea certified under any of these programmes, we can help them achieve this efficiently.

Anu Huhtisaari meeting a smallholder farmerWhile I was in Kenya last week I therefore took the opportunity to join in with some Rainforest Alliance training, along with the newest member of ETP Africa team, Jane Nyambura. All our Regional Managers are trained to help producers achieve Rainforest Alliance certification so it was an excellent insight into how exactly they do this in a smallholder setting.

To put the training into practical context, the last day was spent on a field visit to Mataara Tea Factory and one of their smallholder farms. Armed with checklists off we went to see how the Rainforest Alliance SAN standard had been implemented on the farms. I was happy to see many examples of good practice such as rainwater harvesting and soil erosion prevention.

Jane Nyambura receiving her RA training certificateThis was my first visit to a smallholder farm in Kenya and it was great to understand how a smallholder farm operates and to meet some of the people at the start of the supply chain that ends in our tea cups.

Before the end of the visit our group had a chance to take part in a project to plant indigenous trees around the tea factory. I’m hoping to be able to visit Mataara again to see how the sapling I planted has grown into a tree!

Overall the training was an excellent opportunity for us to strengthen the relationship between RA and ETP in Kenya. We are now even better equipped to support those of our members who opt for RA certification. Jane can deliver training and support for the smallholders and factories alongside Wagurah, and I will continue to coordinate the certification activities from the Secretariat with more practical knowledge of the process on the ground.