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India's tea farmers see hope in co-ops

India, September 15, 2010

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Raymond Thibodeaux

NPR "Marketplace"
September, 2010

India's tea trade hasn't changed much in 150 years, since British colonials started cultivating it there. But changes are brewing.

Workers pluck fresh shoots off tea bushes in the morning mist of Darjeeling. This is the capital of India's tea industry. But the small-scale farmers, and laborers rank among India's poorest. So now, they're trying to earn a better living by producing their own organic tea. Some 300 of them have formed a cooperative called Organic Ekta..

...Rubin Prabhan [Mercy Corps director in Darjeeling]: The Indian tea industry needed reform. We all believe that Organic Ekta is the change that the Darjeeling tea industry needed. And this could be the future of Darjeeling tea...