In February’s THIRST TEA Talk, Dr Miriam Wenner of Goettingen University shared the findings of her research on two tea cooperatives in Darjeeling. It concludes that how a cooperative is set up can make the difference between an empowered workforce and one that ‘self-exploits’. Bebika Khawas of the University of North Bengal then analysed various models tea worker cooperatives in the Dooars – with varying levels of effectiveness. And finally Narendranath Dharmaraj, former CEO of Harrison Malayalam put forward the commercial benefits of redistributing land for worker cooperatives – which he sees as vital to preempt the calamity facing the outdated plantation model. We also heard from Michael Pennant-Jones, formerly of Finlays, about the challenges of trying to ensure Kenyan smallholder tea cooperatives remained self-sustaining.
More information on the issue and the speakers
Talking of cooperatives… In this blog – Is there a role for cooperatives in the tea industry – THIRST Trustee and ethical trade consultant, Stirling Smith, explains the concept of cooperatives, and explores three potential models for tea growers.
Watch a recording of the session here:
(Apologies for the technical problem with Miriam’s slides at the start. The problem is fixed 3 minutes in.)