Rajah Banerjee (Photo courtesy of T’Classic)

There are a number of remaining locations nonetheless unclaimed, however nobody owns the earth.

It is a present to humanity, providing treasures to these prepared to be taught.

During his 47-year stewardship because the Raj of Makaibari Tea Estate, certainly one of India’s oldest and most celebrated tea habitats, Rajah Banerjee, 70, instituted improvements that proceed to reverberate globally. The 1,100-hectare property was each a laboratory and a classroom. “I was never an owner, just a steward in passing,” he says.

Makaibari constructed the world’s first trendy tea manufacturing facility in 1859. It was the primary backyard in India to be licensed natural (1988) and to formally undertake Fairtrade coverage (1993). Workers there have cooked over biogas for the reason that 1970s, not well being endangering twigs. The backyard pioneered biodynamic cultivation to the extent that 1000’s of tea timber had been eliminated to make room for native vegetation. Banerjee lined the soil in mulch and launched sustainable compost to counterpoint the micro fauna. Demeter certification adopted — one other first. Yield suffered, as he had been warned, however high quality improved to the purpose that tea produced at Makaibari introduced the best costs in India — as Rajah predicted.

Rajah Swaraj Kumar Banerjee is the final of 4 generations of Banerjees to have a tendency the backyard. Their work spans greater than 150 years from the time of his great-grandfather Girish Chandra Banerjee till 2014 when Rajah bought a controlling curiosity to the Kolkata-based Luxmi Group. Last May he relinquished his operational function, however Banerjee has no intention of retiring.

Rimpocha

Rajah Banerjee at Rampo Cha Tea cupping, at Nov. 15 launch. (Photo courtesy of T’Classic)

In October Banerjee introduced an formidable objective to succeed in out to the 900 million marginalized farmers of the subcontinent “with particular focus on empowering the 450 million women. These women bend their backs the hardest and are the worst exploited,” he mentioned.

Working out of places of work in Siliguri, Banerjee has begun an outreach program to reinforce the talents of small growers in Darjeeling, Sikkim, Dooars, Terai, and Nagaland.

“Makaibari was my karma,” writes Banerjee. It was a time and place to find 5 nice treasures for humanity that comprise his core teachings. “Rimpocha is my dharma,” he says, foretelling a mission of advocacy that parallels the work of biodynamic pioneer Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) an Austrian thinker grounded within the good earth.

The final objective “is to reintroduce green farming to the country and bring self sufficiency to the small farmers who make up the core of Rimpocha,” says Banerjee.

Rimpocha is an growth/extension of all of the sustainable practices garnered over 47 years, he explains. It is a way of gifting five treasures to humanity, says Banerjee who’s chairman and managing director of his firm T’Classic.

The foundational lesson is to return the soil to full well being. “‘Healthy soil is healthy mankind’, this is my ultimate takeaway from 47 years at Makaibari,” says Banerjee. Treating soil as an organism that thrives on correct diet is the key to crop, he explains. Healthy soil is the primary treasure.

Closely associated is the second treasure, the cow. These animals present immeasurable multifaceted property for a marginalized farmer, says Banerjee. Animal husbandry performs an necessary function in tea high quality. So does wildlife safety. Darjeeling hosts 400 hen species and distinctive bugs seen nowhere else on earth.

The third instructing is empowerment. Seventy % of the ladies in tea are marginalized. “The better the farming practices, the better the yield, and the higher the price it fetches,” he explains. “This allows the women working with Rimpocha to become financially independent, ensuring a cash surplus after daily expenses,” he mentioned. This, in flip, permits funding in training and self-awareness and character that allows the subsequent technology to interrupt freed from exploitation and turn into “successful, self-respecting grass roots entrepreneurs (GRE).”

Fair commerce and a good value are simply rewards. “A healthier and better tasting crop warrants a premium price,” says Banerjee. The Rimpocha marketing strategy entails advertising the produce of growers beneath its model, including worth the place applicable. There are at the moment 33 blends and single-origin teas on supply within the Rimpocha Tea Store. These are primarily orthodox teas however embody herbals like lemongrass, chamomile, and Araby Attar, a mixture of black tea, rose petals, orange peel, and dried kiwi.

“There is an immense range of herbs a fingertip away,” says Banerjee.

“In this age of digitalization, technology is increasingly integral to the success of any venture,” says Banerjee.  “The rural scenario here is sadly deficient in this regard. This creates a void between the producer and the consumer; Rimpocha aims to bridge this gap by establishing digital hubs in every partnering farming community, thus enabling the GREs to directly market their produce to the buyers at a very nominal fee,” he mentioned.

Holistic partnership

Darjeeling Tea Leaves proprietor Raju Lama with Rajah Banerjee at launch get together for Rimpocha, a enterprise to assist small tea growers. (Photo courtesy Raju Lama)

Darjeeling, like many tea areas, is a fragile ecosystem. Life there’s compounded by the multiracial ethnic communities. The departure of the British at independence, coupled with dramatic technological development has compounded the challenges, he writes.

Tenancy enhances private freedom in personal palms. Many imagine that in time, the social unrest and poverty of the tea lands may be alleviated by advancing the fortunes of small growers.

Raju Lama, proprietor of Darjeeling Tea Leaves, is a “hill” native rising licensed natural tea and advertising single origin free leaf for different growers. He ships teas globally.

“There are only a few small tea growers in Darjeeling,” says Lama. “One school of thought feels that ultimately the Darjeeling tea industry has to be managed by the small tea farmers and tea producers,” he says.

Once educated, smallholders can meet the identical excessive requirements as the big estates. Labor just isn’t as expensive for small entrepreneurs since they aren’t obligated to offer meals, shelter, training and medical care however securing financing and advertising is an enormous hurdle. Banding collectively they can afford worth added processing and finance direct shipments to wholesalers.

Lama says that the bigger tea firms are unable to pay a good wage, resulting in low attendance. People are leaving tea estates for higher paying jobs in different cities, says Lama. “Also, the mainstream Gorkha tea workers have for long time felt let down and discriminated by the owners and the present system,” he mentioned.

Land rights, dwelling wage and high quality of life within the tea gardens are deeply entrenched issues. “The time for empowering small tea farmers and tea producers and the local community is now,” he mentioned.

“The ultimate goal is holistic partnership, not ownership,” says Banerjee. He is collaborating with Italian naturopaths to conduct workshops for villagers who’re inspired to recreate their indigenous medicines for frequent illnesses.

Working for clear and carbon-free vitality, is one other necessary objective.

Rimpocha acknowledges the knowledge of working with totally different farming communities to realize the 17 sustainable goals recognized by the United Nations.

“All farmers are artists. Their palate is Mother Earth,” says Banerjee. “Caring for the global communities’ Mother, with loving care and devotion leads one to practice and preach a credo, which unites politics, economics and the environment,” he mentioned.

Sources: United Nations, Rimpocha, Darjeeling Tea Leaves, Forbes India

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