Climate change witnesses becoming adaptation activists
While frustration mounts at the tepid pace of government response to climate change, a group of smallholder tea farmers in eastern Africa – witnesses to climate change’s daily effects – have launched ADAPTea, a climate change adaptation project, last week.
The project will support tea farmers as they develop capacity to understand and adapt to the consequences of climate change. Much of the work will focus on increasing their resilience with sustainable land use management practices.
At the launch, Fairtrade producers shared vivid experiences of dealing with unpredictable weather patterns and other consequences of climate change, which affect their daily work and lives. Patricia Mutangili from Ndima tea factory in Kenya told the group about the challenges they are facing with tea bushes being damaged by strong winds and frost. She also addressed the problems of soil infertility and an increasing reliance on rain water.
After identifying the main challenges, the producers looked for potential solutions. These ideas were then incorporated into the strategy for the ADAPTea project. Implementation will be carried out by the producers, with the technical support from Vi Agroforestry.
“This is an amazing project by the producers, Fairtrade International and Vi Agroforestry– not only does it address production and sustainability issues affected by climate change, but it also strengthens the producer organizations to take control of their value chain, using climate change as an entry point,” Jennifer Mbuvi, Fairtrade Liaison Officer for Kenya and Tanzania.
“It’s a very innovative approach that could easily be duplicated with other products and regions.”
The ADAPTea launch took place in Thika, a small town 40 km northeast of Nairobi. Representatives of 14 small producer organizations from across Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya participated in the event, alongside technical experts from Vi Agroforestry and Giannina Cadena and Carlos Canales of Fairtrade International.
As the world continues to wait for concrete action on climate change by international governments, smallholder farmers are showing what can be done on the ground to improve their own livelihoods, when given the opportunity.