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Udyamini - RWEC

GTC is the technical partner engaged by the American India Foundation Trust (AIFT) in the four year project, “Reinforcing Sustainable Rural Women Entrepreneurs in the Tea Value Chain and Initiating Corresponding Ecosystem Changes” in the Karbi Anglong district of Assam. The project, Udyamini - Rural Women Entrepreneurs Collaborative (RWEC), is part of Big Bets Collaborative, a consortium of seven organisations. RWEC envisages collaborative actions in the areas of clean energy, digital empowerment, value chain evolution, research, communication and ecosystem intervention to build a robust environment for rural women entrepreneurs (RWEs) in Assam and West Bengal.  GTC intends to empower 1000 RWEs among small tea growers in the Karbi Anglong district, Assam over a period of four years and will get integrated to equifarmtea for a long term sustainability.

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Growing tea as a household agricultural activity by small farmers is a recent trend in tea industry in India. Small tea growers now contribute more than 50% of all tea produced in India. They are producers of green tea leaves for the mainstream players of tea in the domestic and international market. For most of the STGs (who own less than 2 acres of land) is just a subsistence activity. However, sensitised STGs are venturing into building enterprises based in response to the growing demand for healthy, traceable, socially and ecologically sustainable quality tea from conscious consumers.  

 

In the STG sector, tea cultivation being a household agricultural activity, women play a central role in the cultivation, plucking of leaves and in reaching it out the plucked leaf to the leaf agents or to the processing factories. However, normally in the tea value chain, women do not have agency and a number of ecosystem factors keep them to a situation where they become merely the suppliers of leaf their pluck to the leaf agents engaged by a processing factory. 

 

A formative phase intervention in Karbi Anglong, Assam has revealed that it opens up avenues for women in the households to set up enterprises to produce handcrafted tea for an increasing market segment. Such Rural Women Entrepreneurs (RWEs) in tea have the potential to engage in socially and environmentally sustainable entrepreneurial production of tea, thereby increasing their well-being. The formative phase action has also brought to the fore the importance of ecosystem interventions for sustainability and replication. 

 

Grassroots Tea Corporation (GTC) works with small tea growers and operates at multiple levels of value accrual. GTC empowers tea farmers to add value to their product by helping them to improve agricultural practices and encouraging them to eschew use of dangerous chemicals and pesticides and to go natural and thereby to get a higher price for their product. GTC helps the farmers to collectivise themselves, raise resources, develop business plans and set up manufacturing units to process quality tea including orthodox and green tea. GTC helps manufacturing units to aggregate, repack and sell their products at wholesale and at tea auction centres to bulk buyers so that they gain better price realisation. Further, GTC sells the packaged traceable, healthy, high-quality tea to retail customers under brand name equifarmtea.

Grassroots Tea Corporation Private Limited (GTC) incorporated in 2017 in New Delhi operates at the aggregation, repacking, whole sale and retail of authentic tea. the second largest consumed liquid after water in the world. Completing the loop of value chain cycle GTC (i) empowers small tea growers (STGs) to cultivate chemical free tea; (ii) leads STGs to raise equity to set up tea processing units to manufacture high quality, certified orthodox tea / green tea; (iii) aggregates the tea and markets it to conscious consumers under a common brand, 'equifarmtea’. At Grassroots Tea Corporation, we bring you fresh quality tea straight from our farmer communities. Our teas are infused with our values of fairness and steeped in our principles of transparency and empowerment - our farmer communities have a direct say in improving product quality and influence social outcomes.

The Context
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