Surviving climate change - lessons from adaptation in Kenya’s tea sector

29 April 2014
ITC News
In order to strengthen the capacity of farmers to adapt to climate change, ITC in partnership with Ethical Tea Partnership, trained smallholder tea farmers in Kenya.

Kenya is witnessing a changing climate, including increasing temperatures, decreasing rainfall and extreme weather events. Tea is a crop that is particularly dependent on well distributed rainfall and thus such changes pose a threat to tea supply chains globally. Smallholder tea farmers are suffering losses of income as a result.

The impacts of climate change are already being felt among Kenyan tea farmers through reduced quality and quantity of tea leaves. ITC, in partnership with Ethical Tea Partnership trained tea farmers on adaptation techniques. This was carried out through Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) Farmer field schools. Two training workshops were conducted with Tea Extension Services Assistants (TESA) and Field Service Coordinators (FSC) from East and West of the Rift Valley with the goal of increasing resilience to climate change through securing future livelihoods and making these livelihoods more environmentally and economically sustainable. 

72 TESAs and FSCs from the east and the west of the Rift Valley were sensitized to climate change using classroom training, group work and Q&A. Here the participants learnt of the impacts of climate change as well as the causes, issues and global response. Farmers also learnt different adaptation and mitigation activities at the farm level including conservation farming (double digging, mulching, crop rotation, 5- 9 seeds per hole etc.). Field work and discussions were also on different strategies including natural pest control, high nutritious food to grow in gardens as well as the use of energy efficient stoves.

At the end of the training, the participants worked together to formulate strategies to adapt climate change on the farm. This strategy focused on making TESAs and FSCs act as multiplying agents. Each factory has 9000-10,000 farmers and thus TESAs and FSCs have the responsibility of training these farmers through farmer field schools. It is estimated that 126,000 farmers will receive this training through this multiplier approach

Want to learn more? Watch video on Kenyan tea farmers experience on how to address climate change.