Tea producers across East Africa rely on firewood to fuel their dryers, an essential part of the production process. Grid electricity is too unreliable and oil too expensive in remote locations. Similarly, in countries with cheap subsidized electricity, such as Tanzania, renewable energy is often unable to compete. But steps can be taken to significantly reduce wood consumption and to ensure it is sustainably sourced.
At Wakulima Tea Company (WTC), part of our agriculture, food and forestry division, we established a new firewood department in 2019 to oversee storage, manage moisture levels and ensure all wood is sourced from certified local suppliers. Two years later and improvements in the quality of wood have significantly reduced the amount of wood we use to dry the same quantity of tea. Together with better oversight of stock this has reduced costs and taken us further down the path to carbon neutrality.
Last year WTC became a member of the UN Climate Neutral Now Initiative and achieved the Carbon Neutral International Standard, committing to remove all avoidable greenhouse gas emissions. WTC is a subsidiary of Tanzania Tea Packers Ltd (TATEPA), which has also established Suma Hydro, a hydro-electricity station to provide sustainable energy for the farm and local area. The company is waiting for final approval from the Tanzanian Government to proceed with construction, which will reduce direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions even further.
Visit the Wakulima Tea Company website for more information about its operations in Tanzania.