Suman is a seasonal worker on a tea estate in Darjeeling, but the income from tea cannot sustain his large family. Through our project with Mercy Corps Suman has been able to grow a dairy farming business to supplement his income.
“After improving my cowshed and adding 2 new cows, we plan to set up a new dairy farm in our community which will be larger and better managed to get maximum benefits out of it.”
Enabling income diversification in Darjeeling
Twinings is working in Darjeeling, in the foothills of the Himalaya in North India, an important sourcing origin for our delicate blends.
Only 30% of the people who live on tea garden have permanent employment and the surplus population on tea estates has not been able to find employment outside the tea industry due to the shrinking local economy. As a result, many families struggle to earn enough income to meet their basic needs and many young men have left the area in search of work in towns and cities. This impacts families and communities and depletes the pool of labour available for tea companies in Darjeeling during the high season.
Twinings has been partnering with Mercy Corps in Darjeeling since 2009, and following successful work on water and sanitation, we extended our partnership in 2015, to support income generating opportunities for people living on tea estate. We are currently working on one essential tea garden in Darjeeling and have been supporting people like Suman.
In consultation with the communities, dairy farming was identified as a good option for income diversification; not only it can be done alongside tea farming, but can provide estate with cow fertiliser). Training is being provided on animal management and group savings. Suman participated in 5 days Dairy Animal Management training. He now feels that he has the skills needed to properly care for his cows and increase their yield. “Many of my misconceptions have been cleared and now I have a better understanding of how to properly manage cows and a dairy unit.”
“We have started a group savings account where I and my group members start depositing money on monthly basis. After improving my cowshed and adding 2 cows, we plan to set up a new dairy farm in our community which will be larger and better managed to get maximum benefits out of it.”, says Suman.
The next steps are to build the capacity of producer groups to ensure they are able to collectively bargain, receive the best price for their product and benefit from economies of scale.
Creating alternative income-generating activities leads to more financially secure families and therefore more thriving communities; we look forward to seeing how this initiative goes forward.