Tea and coffee firms in South India are increasingly focusing on procuring international certification in recent times, in order to enhance their presence in overseas markets. The certifications have become a necessity as buyers from the US and Europe countries prefer beverages from estates certified for sustainable farming with focus on improvement in environment and social conditions. There is an increased demand for accreditations from international firms such as Raiforest Alliance (RA) of the US, UTZ of Netherlands, Ethical Tea Partnership of London and also Indian certifications like Trusttea. The need for accreditations for South Indian tea and coffee growers is more as they account for 40 percent in India’s tea exports, although their share in tea production is just 20 percent. Kanan Devan Hill Plantations Company, the largest tea corporate in South India, has already obtained RA, UTZ and Trusttea certifications for most of its tea estates that helps its products get more acceptability abroad. Many of
these organisations offering certifications conduct regular reviews to renew the certificates and normally provide a list of pesticides and chemicals to be used in estates. Poabs group of Kerala has secured the prestigious Demeter certification from Germany for its tea and coffee estates in Nelliyampathy, which is given only for those practising biodynamic agriculture, the highest form of organic farming. Having a dairy farm and use of cow dung as manure is mandatory in this type of farming. The companies are now looking at new accreditations to appease buyers and prove the distinctive nature of products. One such company is Harrisons Malayalam, which has already received most of the certifications. It has recently applied for a certificate from an organisation of the US for its estates in Lockhardt and Wentworth being elephant-friendly. Aspinwall and Company, which exports niche product like monsooned Malabar coffee, has recently joined Nespresso for a certification programme to expand its presence in the European market where it has a significant demand.
(Indian Business Insight)
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