17 September 2014

Pesticide Documentation in Tea estates © Vivek M. / Greenpeace


Life is busy as hell! My day starts at 7 AM (which by many is a late start), but for me it's quite an early start, because I sleep at 12, and wake up every 2-3 hours to check on my baby girl. Yes, I am a working mother and I love my work and love even more being a mom. My daily routine entails to get up, make food for my child, do the necessary chores, get ready and scoot off to work (leaving my girl at the seasoned and doting care of my in-laws). And do you know what keeps me going? A good cup of warm adrakwali chai! But, lo behold! I cannot enjoy my tea anymore thanks to pesticides, which the tea companies have happily overlooked and have been dishing out to us every morning/noon/night.

Since the report 'Trouble Brewing' has thrown light on the hazardous pesticides residues in tea, I cannot get myself to drink the beverage I love and I need to keep me going. When I look back, not so long ago, around 8 months back, when my child would keep me awake the whole night (at times nights in a row) I would quickly make some tea for myself, have a cuppa and get started to play with her or attend to her needs. Now, when I think the cups of tea I gulped down during pregnancy and post-natal, I shudder! I hope it has not left any footprints on either me or my daughter.

But now, I have to settle with not having tea, while the craving still remains.

And this is because, one of my favourites, TATA Tea, has not yet committed to pesticide-free tea. While Unilever and Girnar, two of the industry majors have taken steps to clean up the supply chain, TATA Tea under TGBL (TATA Global Beverages Ltd.), a leading and well-loved brand has refused to take any constructive steps towards phasing out pesticides from their supply chain.

TGBL is sticking to an approach that could only help reduce pesticides. The outcome will be as good as the goal you set for yourself and the approach that you adopt to reach the goal. So unless the goal is set as zero pesticides, one can never even reach close to it. As consumers we simply don't want pesticides in our tea and we look forward to our favourite brands to adopt steps that will help achieve this. Non Pesticidal Management (NPM) has worked in other crops in erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, and with some research, will of companies and policy initiatives by governments, one can certainly make it work for tea. TGBL owes it to the consumers; it should work towards consumer safety. Like me, many associate the brand with reliability and sustainability and surely I would want them to take steps, so that my faith on them re-imposes.

As a tea buff, I would like the tea companies to provide pesticide-free tea to a nation that loves and knows its tea. Tea is a national pride and the nation boasts of numerous tea connoisseurs, the brands owe it to us.

TGBL please give me my favourite cup of tea back! Please clean chai now!

Debanjana Choudhuri is a Senior Media Officer with Greenpeace India.