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New partnership with Yogi Tea and Rwanda’s tea farmers

By Practical Action On 07.06.2021 FarmingNews

We’re excited to announce a new collaboration with East West Tea Company (Yogi Tea & Choice Organics), an innovative tea and botanicals company that sources some of its organic ingredients from small-scale farmers who work with the Sorwathe Tea company in Rwanda.

We’ll be teaming up with East West Tea Company and Sorwathe tea farmers on a pioneering new project to support diversification and more regenerative forms of agriculture.

The result of this partnership will be a win-win for people and the planet. Farming families will have increased income, food security and health. Meanwhile, soil health will be improved, and other environmental resources conserved.

This regenerative approach is also a sustainable one – farmland will become more productive over time. The communities we work with will continue to benefit from our work together for generations.

Practical Action and East West Tea Company: a natural partnership

Private sector partnerships are an important part of our work and we’re always looking for opportunities to work with innovative, ethical businesses like Yogi Tea and Sorwathe.

“Working with the private sector gives us the opportunity to create bigger positive impacts by developing new and sustainable business models that deliver social good – and profit. Our regenerative farming expertise and grassroots experience of working with low-income communities will be invaluable throughout this project. Our focus will be on the farming communities themselves, making sure that their needs are at the heart of our solutions.”

John Chettleborough, Agriculture and Markets Lead, Practical Action Consulting

“We believe in delivering products that are organic, ethical and sustainable. We buy tea from Sorwathe for our Choice Organics range and we wanted to help support the small-scale farmers in this district by improving their incomes through diversification. This will involve growing botanicals alongside their tea bushes and introducing regenerative agricultural practices to increase biodiversity, soil health and yields. We will buy these botanicals for our Yogi Tea blends. Practical Action builds farming systems that connect nature with people. They’ve shown in their work around the world that this regenerative approach can enable smallholder farmers to achieve a decent standard of living, while protecting the environment and building natural resources.”

Ian Brabbin, VP Global Sourcing and Sustainability, East West Tea Company

The challenges faced by Rwanda’s farming families

Small-scale farmers in Rwanda often find it difficult to make a good living from their land while also growing enough food to support their families.

Their plots are generally very small – usually smaller than a football pitch. Farmers don’t have much space to work with, which makes it difficult for them to grow enough both to eat and to sell.

The changing climate is causing further challenges by making droughts more frequent and severe. Farmers lack knowledge about which crops to grow and where and when to sell them most profitably. They sometimes resort to intensive farming techniques that damage the long-term fertility of the soil.


The project: improving livelihoods while protecting the environment


Practical Action Consulting is working with East West Tea Company and Sorwathe to design a two-year pilot project involving just over 100 tea farmers in Rwanda.

The project will focus on supporting farmers to:

  • Diversify their production by introducing new and different crops, providing year-round income and improving long-term soil health
  • Access a variety of local and international markets so they can make the most of their small plots by getting the best possible price for their produce
  • Learn regenerative farming techniques that boost production while also protecting the environment


The project so far: planning for success

The project is in the initial planning stage. We’re exploring innovative ways to ensure it delivers the greatest impact possible, including integrating carbon finance (international payments to initiatives that trap carbon) to help subsidise the transition to regenerative agriculture on a larger scale.

Alongside this, we’re looking at how we can make sure that women are represented in the project and looking into the most effective ways to measure our success over time.

We’re looking forward to sharing more news about this exciting new partnership as the project continues. In the meantime, find out about Yogi Tea and Choice Organics or explore more of our projects making farming work with families around the world.