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Why Tea as a Cash Crop?

The Advantages of Growing Tea

  • Tea is easy to grow, and it is the best crop that can be planted on hills.
  • The mountainous region of Northern Togo has the perfect acidic soil for growing tea, as well as the perfect climate, with enough rainfall.
  • There is a rising worldwide demand for tea.
  • Tea grows year-round and will allow an improvement in the incomes of the local people, as it will provide work and a steady income throughout the year.
  • A Tea enterprise employs many people. Men can cultivate, process, store and package, while women and children are important during the harvesting as pluckers who carefully pick the leaves from every branch on the bush.
  • There is no need for shade to grow tea, which suits perfectly the deforested northern regions of Togo.
  • Market prices are relatively stable.
  • There is less resistance in terms of existing infrastructure (corruption shield) and people can locally develop their own network.
  • Tea provides people with knowledge than they can use locally, without requiring them to leave their community

    Tea is green

    • 100% of the production process waste can be recycled.

    • The remnants of tea leaves can be converted into animal feed.

    • What grows from the earth is returned to the earth.

      • In many countries, inferior teas are not sold but added to the compost pile to further enrich the soil.
      • Tea clippings help the soil retain moisture, prevent soil erosion and control the growth of undesirable weeds.
      • Used tea leaves make great soil as tea contains nutrients and minerals that enrich soils
      • Remaining branches after harvesting can be used for cooking or heating.

Why did WE Choose Tea?

Tea is easier to grow than coffee

    • Tea requires less shade to grow than coffee: it grows well in full sun.
    • Tea is very resilient and adaptable.
    • Tea is really easy to grow if winters are warm.

Tea suits Togo, where our efforts are currently concentrated

    • The villages in which we intervene are located in the northern mountainous region of the country which is perfect because the higher the elevation.
    • In this region, the soils are rich, acidic, and ideal for the cultivation of tea.

Tea is not yet cultivated in Togo

    • There is no established infrastructure for Tea.
    • There is less resistance or obstruction to establish a market, cooperatives, and partnerships.
    • Tea is mostly grown in south India and Asia, and although also cultivated in other parts of Africa, there is very little culture of tea in the west.
    • Tea is produced and exported by seventeen African countries, sixteen of them being in the top hundred exporters.
    • Despite the fact that most African tea producers and exporters are located in Sub-Saharan Africa, the largest producers are all located in the southeast. Only a few countries located in the west are producing tea, these include Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Senegal.

Tea is a Global Crop

    • The demand for tea will be strong over the next decade, driven by ever more compelling evidence concerning its contribution to health.
    • The second most consumed drink in the world is tea.

Tea is better for health than coffee

    • Tea is recognized as a leading health-giving substance in traditional Chinese medicine.
    • It is renown for its pharmacological properties.
    • Tea strengthen bones.
    • Tea is rich in antioxidants .
    • Tea helps prevent strokes, heart disease, and some cancers.
    • Tea protects against tooth plaque since it contains fluoride.

Tea Project Overview


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The different kinds of tea

All teas come from the same plant: the Camellia Sinensis. What distinguishes the different types of tea is how the leaves are processed between the time they are picked and the time they are packaged. Tea is processed in various ways, which produce four distinct types: Black, Green, Oolong and White.

White Tea

  • White tea is made from the immature buds of the tea plant that are picked and processed before they have had time to develop
  • The buds are not allowed to oxidize at all and produce a pale liquor
  • White tea has much less caffeine than any of the other tea varieties

    Green Tea

  • Contrary to black teas, green teas are made by keeping the leaves from undergoing the process of oxidation
  • The leaves of Camellia Sinensis are picked and steamed, baked, or pan fired after a very short period of time.
  • Green tea produces a yellowish to green beverage and usually has a subtle sweetness
  • It is known for its health benefits

    Oolong Tea

  • Oolong tea is exposed to the sun and allowed to partially ferment
  • It produces a liquor darker than green teas but lighter than the black ones, which can range from a greenish yellow to a dark amber

    Black Tea

  • Black tea is fully oxidized before being dried
  • It is the strongest in flavor and has a richer color than other teas
  • Black tea ranges from a dark amber to a black that would rival coffee
  • Black tea represents 80% of the world’s consumption

 

Opening of a Tea Nursery in Northern Togo to Empower Local Community Members

Small-scale local nurseries contribute to the sustainable development of local rural communities and are an effective way to complement subsistence farming. The nurseries are managed by a group of people who work together to produce the young plants.


In the case of a tea nursery, fertilizers are of no need since tea is a crop that, rather than taking from the soil, actually nourishes it. Water is a crucial aspect in a nursery’s success, and poly grow bags have proven to be the most successful method since they retain humidity. However, bamboo sticks can also be used and have worked in the past in Tanzanian nurseries.


It has been noticed in other Sub-Saharan African countries that it is of importance to create a system to transmit knowledge and information relative to the nursery development and maintenance to the population locally and in other villages to encourage replication of the project. Cooperation with schools is strongly encouraged, not only because it raises environmental awareness, but also since it encourages entrepreneurship among the youth.


With members of a village that we serve in Northern Togo, we planted 100 seeds in July 2010 and took soil samples from different locations. According to the results obtained on the ground and the analysis, we will plant between 10000 and 20000 fresh seeds in December 2010, opening the first large scale Togolese tea nursery.

 

How the implementation of tea in a community improves life:

Economically, for women, men, and children

  • Tea is a labor intensive crop, insuring a steady income.
  • Tea is an important employer: growing year-round, it employs many people, especially pluckers who carefully pick the top three or so leaves from every branch on the bush. Leaves from the tea bush are generally harvested by hand, and as yet, there is no practical mechanical method of harvesting. Harvesting is therefore a workforce intense process.
  • People in the tea production process are planters, pluckers, processors, transporters, packagers, and sellers.
  • Since tea leaves are very fragile, pluckers are usually women and older children, which generates sources of income to the households for food and education.
  • It has been proven over the years that the money made by women tends to benefit more the family as a whole, versus the income generated by men.
  • Rather than subsistence farming that provides just enough for families to survive, a cash crop culture provides for sales and generates income.
  • Once families have a steady income, they will invest more in healthcare, education, and start the virtuous circle of economic empowerment.

At the community level

  • It maintains community cohesiveness: the culture of tea as a cash crop generates jobs locally, providing income without having to leave the community in search of work.
  • The children who cannot inherit their parent’s farm can now stay within the community in which they were raised, and find a job without having to leave their families.
  • Tea nurseries and farms are managed by a group rather than an individual, which creates team work and reinforces cooperation within the community members.

In terms of education

  • Since more income is generated, the younger children will not be required to cultivate the fields, which will improve the rate of school attendance.
  • By economically empowering families, the culture of tea as a cash crop will also allow parents to invest in school supplies, lighting to allow children to study at night and do their homework, and create new opportunities for the younger generations.
  • It encourages entrepreneurship among the youth.
  • It raises environmental awareness

Culturally speaking

  • Togolese are known to be excellent cultivators, often lured away to other countries, where there is more agricultural work available. By providing cash crop farming opportunities, the community isn’t dismantled and culture can be preserved.
  • The agricultural system in the north of Togo is already ideally suited and developed as a cooperative culture, which is perfect for Tea cultivation, and this knowledge will continue to be handed down from the older generations to the youth

How to Grow Tea

Tea can be propagated from cuttings of from seeds.

How to Make Tea - Quick Chart

Tea Production

  • Tea originally came from China. In South-East Asia, tea is also cultivated in India, Sri Lanka, Java, and Sumatra.
  • China is the world’s largest manufacturer and leads the competition with one million tons of tea manufactured per year. Right behind is India, manufacturing an average of about 900,000 tons of tea annually.
  • Tea is currently grown in more than 30 different places worldwide. However, the leading places of tea growth areas are found in China, India and Kenya. These three countries together supply about 75% of the world's entire tea supply. Other primary areas of tea growing are Sri Lanka, Japan, Indonesia, Argentina, Uganda, Turkey and Russia.
  • The area of cultivation ranges massively from a latitude of 40 degrees North to 33 degrees South. These tea-producing countries include countries as diverse as Vietnam, Cameroon, Paraguay, Fiji and French Corsica.
  • The demand for tea will be strong over the next decade, driven by ever more compelling evidence concerning its contributions to health.

Imports of tea and mate, by country

SOURCE: International Trade Centre UNCTAD/WTO via NationMaster

Exports of Tea and mate, by

SOURCE: International Trade Centre UNCTAD/WTO via NationMaster

African countries producing and exporting tea

Tea is produced and exported by seventeen African countries, sixteen of them being in the top hundred exporters.

Kenya (#2)

Uganda (#31)

Swaziland (#73)

Niger (#87)

Malawi (#15)

Ethiopia (#44)

Mozambique (#74

 

Zimbabwe (#16)

Cote d’Ivoire (#51)

Mali (#77)

 

South Africa (#23)

Zambia (#58)

Sudan (#83)

 

Rwanda (#28)

Burundi (#62)

Senegal (#85)

 

 

Despite the fact that most African tea producers and exporters are located in Sub-Saharan Africa, the largest producers are all located in the southeast. Only a few countries located in the west are producing tea, these include Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Senegal.

A Life story

Henri has three brothers, Koffi, Paul and Edem, and one sister, Sandra. Edem and Henri are the last ones, the twins. His sister is getting married soon with Eli, who owns the farm next to theirs. Henri and his brothers have been helping at the farm since their youngest age. Their dad taught them how to farm, grow, pick and process yams. They're good at it, and the family has enough to eat. Henri's two older brothers are going to have the farm when their father dies; it's been agreed one year ago. Koffi and Paul will make a good job together.

The twins would have loved having the farm, but there is not enough work for all of them. Their initiation is next week, they are going to be introduced in the adult community and will have to leave their village afterwards. Leave to go farm elsewhere, leave and get and education in another country so they will hopefully find a job, leave to survive. They wish they could have stayed. Be there at their sister's wedding. Live with their parents, stay with their siblings. Stay in their culture.

If it wasn't for the lack of opportunities, they would never have leaved. If the village wasn't surviving on subsistence farming, and had cash crop farming, they would have stayed. Koffi and Paul would have produced, Edem processed and Henri would have sold the production.

Because Henri, and all the Henris in communities relying on subsistence farming deserve a chance to stay with the people they love and in the community they grew up with, we are introducing the culture of tea as a cash crop in northern Togo.

Because introducing tea means job opportunities, community cohesiveness, preservation of family and social identity. Because, it's much more than just growing tea.


The Noar Foundation for global community development

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