A Visit to the Largest Organic Farm in Asia

IMG_1735Today we had the opportunity to visit one of the leading tea producers in India, Hathikuli Tea Plantation. Hathikuli is the biggest employer in the Kaziranga area and as we soon found out, the largest organic farm in all of Asia. The management of this massive tea operation taught us a lot about tea and what an operation of this size means to both the local community and the environment surrounding it. The plantation covers 470 hectares and employs more than 3,000 workers, the majority of whom are working as tea pickers, which they have done for generations since the plantation opened more than 100 years ago.

hathiluli_tea_estateWhile sipping on delicious organic tea from plants just feet away, the manager, Chandan, told us that the board members made a conscious decision in 2009 to prioritize their impact on the local environment. The first year they converted half of the crop to organic and the operation has since been 100% organic. This fact was astonishing to hear, because the change meant going from over a million kilos (2.2 million lbs) of final product per year to around 430,000 (946,000 lbs). There is an increase in product value but not nearly enough to cover the loss. So essentially we have major businessmen making a decision to lower revenue in order to help the environment, by decreasing the amount of toxic pesticides that were contaminating the surrounding waters. Since Kaziranga is mostly swampland and rivers, all these pesticides had a detrimental effect on the ecosystem.

IMG_1727The assistant manager took us on a tour of the beautiful green plantations where we had the chance to meet some of the local workers and to satisfy our curiosity about this forward-thinking company. As always, the Indian hospitality was above and beyond. Workers in the fields work 6 days a week, 8 hours a day and make 95 rupees per day. 95 rupees a day is around 1.6 dollars U.S., not exactly a dream wage by any standard. However, the workers get an hour lunch, housing, 48 days paid vacation, 84 days paid maternity leave and all medical care paid for. Amazingly, the medical care extends to their entire family. The plantation even has a professional and fully-equipped hospital to tend to any of the workers’ needs. We had lunch with the doctor who was extremely well- educated, well-traveled and dedicated to her profession. She has the assistance of multiple nurses and is on-call 24/7. When asked what she deals with, she told us “I am a jack of all trades, and deal with anything from a headache, to childbirth, alcohol addiction, trauma surgery and anything in between”.

Hathikuli Tea Plantation is just one of the many examples of the conservation efforts in effect to protect Kaziranga. The people of Assam are extremely proud of this national treasure.

Next time you sip on a cup of organic tea, there is a good chance that it was grown right here in Kaziranga!

5 thoughts on “A Visit to the Largest Organic Farm in Asia

  1. Philipp

    Awesome report! I love the positive energy you are transmitting! Honestly when I think about India I have a bad picture in my mind now that picture looks a bit better :-)!

    Reply
    1. scubamartin Post author

      I couldn’t agree more. There are so many terrible stories from India(many of which of course are true) but we also see a lot of hope

      Reply
  2. christina söderhamn

    Im really so positively surprised to read something like this- Good people who are willing to go that far to make a difference. Just great.

    Reply
    1. scubamartin Post author

      Yes it is! We were also very surprised to learn that a big company like this can make environmentally conscious decisions.

      Reply
  3. Tyler

    That is such a cool story, I am so impressed and dumbfounded by the care and consideration for our planet these people have. What a truly amazing place in this world, preserving our animals and protecting our environmental at the lowest of levels. Truly inspiring, I wish some of our 1st world leaders would take advice from these modest people. I wish I could throw everything down and learn from these farmers and conservationists.

    Really wonderful writing and great perspective. Love it!

    Reply

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