From garden to cup: how this tea company is serving the world
One of our core beliefs at Fjordlife is that all business should make the world better. There is no better example of that than Teatulia Organic Teas. Established in 2000, Teatulia has transformed barren land in a remote area in Bangladesh into 3,000 acres of lush, organic tea gardens without the use of chemicals, unnatural irrigation or machinery, and has helped support the surrounding community in the process.
Although Bangladesh had been known as one of the largest tea growing locations in the world, with little international reputation, tea was primarily consumed within the country and only produced in the east. In 2000, Kazi Anis Ahmed, had the desire to bring tea production to the northwest region where annual income per family was $800 and people faced a constant threat of seasonal famine. Kazi felt expanding production into the north would bring necessary jobs to the region. He strongly believed enterprise would be the real driver of growth. Solving land and fertilizer issues in the area he felt would help solve many of the challenges people in the region experienced.
The goal of Teatulia was to produce tea that was not only organic (a term not common at the time) but also required low intervention farming. Since the land was barren and untouched the organic tea gardens were able to function on minimal irrigation. A wide variety of plants (over 250 species) were instilled to feed and aerate the soil. All of the plants have been planted for specific purposes. Ginger, peppermint and lemongrass are cultivated for herbal infusions. Medicinal shots and herbs are provided to the neighbouring villages in order to maintain the health of the community.
Teatulia has also established a farming cooperative. The co-op teaches organic farming, which has provided families with food and a way to strengthen their socio-economic condition by selling crops to local village markets and city supermarkets. With cow manure being used in the gardens for soil fertility the company started a cattle lending program run by Bengali women in nearby villages. After 1L of milk and a specific amount of manure is produced, the members of the cattle program are free to own the cows and use them for their own revenue purposes. This has lead to a 300% increase in members annual incomes. Community centres and parks were built near the gardens so employees and surrounding community members can benefit from them. Language and computer literacy classes are often held at the community centre in the evenings. Teatulia reports that in 2013, 84% of male and female workers were literate. When the tea garden first opened, less than 30 percent of workers were literate.
Now sold in North America, Teatulia Organic Teas has become the largest organic tea garden in the world, continuing to support the Bangladesh community and forever changing the way we think about tea production!
Visit their website to learn more about the incredible work they are doing.
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