agroforst 1199

Naturland

Bringing environmental and social reform to the Indian tea industry

TPI 350

Tea Promoters India (TPI), is a Darjeeling-based family tea operation run by the Mohan family and has been an important pioneer in bringing environmental and social reform to the Indian tea industry. In 1988 Binod Mohan travelled to Europe to find out more about how to get organic and the market opportunities for organic tea. His search took him to Naturland and that marked the beginning of a successful cooperation.

At Biofach 2020 Naturland honoured Tea Promoters India for 30 years partnership with Naturland, its pioneering spirit und dedication to organic agriculture, social development and fair trade.TPI gave a lot of impetus to the development of Darjeeling and the organic conversion of so many more teagardens. Naturland and Tea Promoters India share a long history and success story. Tea Promoters India is also a Naturland Fair partner.

In 1989 the then Naturland managing director Dr Storhas went to India to accompany the conversion of the first teagarden. The first focus was on installing a composting system and organising the supply of nutrients on a natural basis. The manure from the cows of the tea worker families was collected and more manure was purchased from outside. Where possible nitrogen-fixing legumes and elephant grass were planted in the tea gardens and TPI started to plant shade trees.

In addition to the organic conversion and cultivation of the tea gardens, improving the social situation of the workers and pluckers was an important issue from the very beginning. Tea Promoters India has subsequently contributed a lot to improve the working and living conditions in the communities, such as the for example the further development of the health care system and the company's own school system.

In 1990, upon successful completion of the inspection of the Samabeong tea garden, the first Darjeeling tea certified to the Naturland organic standards was launched in the German market.
This pioneering project was the start of a long partnership between Naturland and the Mohan family, Today nine TPI teagardens in Darjeeling, Dooars and Assam are Naturland certified. Furthermore, TPI has helped the Sanjukta Vikas Sanstha smallholder project, the first teagarden in Darjeeling managed by small scale farmers, to access the fair-trade market.

Of course, there are still challenges ahead. Currently a lot of replanting of tea is going on, which implies quite an investment for TPI. Another challenge is the lack of labour force. Soil fertility (yields have to get up) is still a work package Naturland and TPI are working on.

Naturland is looking forward continuing the fruitful cooperation. Whether 30 years ago or today, Tea Promoters India is showing promising spirit and the next generation with Gautam Mohan is already on board.