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Our tea growers association was incorporated in 1998 as a Non Governmental Organization (NGO). Its aim is to increase the production yield of green leaf and the income of farmers. The association counts up to 15,000 members, spread out over 108 villages. All members are smallholders, each of them owning less than half a hectare of land. In 2002 the association managed to buy 25 percent of the Wakulima Tea Factory in Rungwe, making all 15,000 farmers shareholders. Being a shareholder, the association has been able to bargain for green leaf prices. This has led to an increasing kilo price over the last years and encouraged the farmers to produce more tea. Both factors have led to a huge increase of income for the farmers. Next to their income, farmers now even get dividends on their shares!
Since 2002 the association sells 10 percent of the output of the tea factory to TeaDirect a fair trade organization in the UK. This organization pays 40 sterling cent per kilo on top of the market price, a so called 'fair trade premium'. The premiums are being pumped straight into development projects.
In this way fair trade does not only benefit the farmers, but the entire community. The last couple of years more than 100 schools and 21 water projects have been built of the fair trade premium. Also an hiv/aids awareness program and a Community Health Fund was set up.
We employ 1 program coordinator and 8 tour guides. Next to this, we work together with local taxi drivers and bus drivers and local women who occasionally cook food for tourists. Our tour guides are all local people.
For the tea tour we work with tea farmers who are trained to be a guide and for other tours we work with tour guides from the village where the concerned natural attraction is located.
Inspired by the fair trade principle, the farmers have started ‘fair tourism’. Visitors pay a fair tour fee that includes a village development fee. With this fee the villages can build classrooms and buy schoolbooks or medical equipment for the local dispensary.
We work with Wildlife Conservation Society. The cooperation benefits both parties in several ways. WCS helps us in providing trainings to tour guides, on wildlife conservation as well as on environmental knowledge in general. We helps WCS in raising environmental awareness by selling WCS t shirts. We help WCS in raising environmental awareness in the villages that we work with by organizing environmental conservation sessions.