Thiashola Tea Estate is located in the heart of the Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu state, the main tea growing area of south India.
About Thiashola Tea Estate
It is a subsidiaryof PIDC Ltd which also owns the nearby Nadukani and Daverashola tea estates. Thiashola has been certified organic since 2003 and was Fairtrade certified in January 2008.
Production & Sales
The estate extends to 190 hectares (470 acres) at an average altitude of 2,000 metres (6,500 feet). It employees 407 field workers, including 257 female tea pluckers, as well as 15 tea factory workers and 16 office staff.
’ Thiashola tea grower
We want to give our children the chance to grow in life and have a better life than us. So the scholarships for children to go to college or university are very important as they allow them to do this
Thiashola manufactures organic black, green and speciality teas using the Orthodox processing method. This involves a machine rolling the freshly plucked leaves to produce the large leaf particles which are traditionally used in high quality leaf tea. By comparison, most tea production in south India uses the CTC method where a series of cylindrical rollers with small, sharp teeth Crush, Tear, and Curl the leaves. This yields more cups per kilo and is widely used for cheaper, quick-brew tea bags.
Thiashola has an annual production of around 664 tonnes. The majority is sold directly to buyers in Germany, Australia and the UK, with around 5% sold at local auctions in Coimbatore and Cochin.
Thiashola Tea Estate was Fairtrade certified in 2008. It sells up to 53% of production on Fairtrade terms and in 2011/12 sold 137 tonnes of tea to Fairtrade buyers. On top of the price negotiated between buyer and seller the estate receives the additional Fairtrade Premium of $1.10 per kilo to invest in community development projects.
The premium is paid directly into a bank account operated by the Joint Body (JB), a committee of 12 workers – currently eight women and four men – who are elected to supervise premium-funded projects chosen by the workers. They are supported by two estate management representatives who are appointed to the JB to provide practical assistance in areas such as accounts and project management.
Fairtrade Premium Projects
Low-interest loan scheme for workers to finance income-generating schemes such as the purchase of sewing machines for tailoring, or keeping cattle, goats and chickens to sell their milk, meat and eggs.
Paying a doctor’s salary for two days to ensure a doctor is in attendance five days a week.
Free monthly medical camps where workers can be examined by an eye surgeon, dentist and gynaecologist. This reduces difficult journeys to the nearest free government hospital at Ooty, which is two to six hour’s drive away, depending on weather conditions.
A new electrification project counteracts frequent power cuts and augments existing erratic power supply with a mini hydroelectric plant, providing each cottage with two light bulbs, enabling children to study in the evenings.
Gas cookers and gas bottles provided for all families. Previously workers relied on firewood for cooking. The build-up of smoke caused respiratory problems, and, after a hard day’s work, women had to spend an hour collecting increasingly scarce firewood from the forest.
Cable TV installed in all workers’ cottages, covering fee connection and monthly subscription.
Strong, secure, steel cabinets provided for workers to keep valuable possessions safe.
School bus purchased for the 15km trip to Manjoor where forty to fifty older children attend school and no longer have to use the overcrowded, unreliable government bus.
The JB has established a higher education fund for college and university students. Financed by the Fairtrade Premium, the scheme is open to all secondary school students who are children of estate workers and covers tuition fees and part boarding expenses. So far 35 applications have been received and are being assessed.
Purchase of two computers to provide free IT training classes for children, twice a week.
Construction of a community hall which is free for workers to hire for weddings and social events. Also used for a wide range of community meetings and events.
Male workers have been provided with shoes and raincoats and women workers with shoes and aprons to