THE HIMALAYAN BEACON DARJEELING NEWS BUREAU
DARJEELING, 20 DECEMBER 2017: Fair Trade India has been educating people especially those belonging to the tea gardens about the Fair Trade Movement. R. K. Singh, Organizing Manager, FLO, a Fair Trade Organisation while speaking to ‘The Himalayan Beacon’ said that the organisation had been working in the tea gardens since 2014. He said that whatever amount of Tea was sold outside India, 1 Dollar per KG was left aside to be used for the welfare of the Tea Garden workers through such Fair Trade organisations as Kusum Employees Welfare Society in the case of Orange Valley Tea Garden. A Fair Trade Premium Committee was also formed among the workers of tea garden themselves. These committees maintained an account where the premium from the sale was deposited. Once the premium was received the Fair Trade organisation such as Kusum Employees Welfare Society could use the fund to distribute things that were needed by the members of the Society.
When asked what was the process of becoming a part of Fair Trade, Singh said that one had to work towards gaining Fair Trade certification. There were some rules and regulations that had to be strictly followed. If certified a local committee was formed which looked after fair trade practices such Kusum Employees Welfare Society in this instance. A Fair Trade Premium Committee was also formed by the local representatives which upon receiving the annual premium from the sales decided what to do with the fund.
This year, Kusum Employees Welfare Society distributed Milton’s Tiffin boxes to the members at Orange Valley Tea Garden near Darjeeling town. R. K. Singh said that the premium that was received by the respective Tea Garden Premium Committee depended on the sale of tea from the said garden. Most of the time the production and the sale of the tea was affected by various factors including climatic. In 2015, hailstorm destroyed most of the tea bushes in Orange Valley Tea Garden and largely affected the production and sale of tea which in turn adversely affected the premium received by the tea garden workers.
Pravin Thami is the Chief Cameraman and the Coordinator Darjeeling Region for ‘The Himalayan Beacon’.