What is Rainforest Alliance?
Rainforest Alliance is a nonprofit organization that was found by an American environmental activist named Daniel Katz in 1987 based in New York. Its mission is to conserve biodiversity and improve the live hood of people. Currently, it operates within 70 countries around the world, including Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
It works within the agriculture sector to ensure sustainability in agriculture practices and provides a certification to encourage sustainability. In 2017, the organization was merged with UTZ, another organization in which had similar attention on the issues such as deforestation, climate change, poverty, and social injustices. As a merged organization, the Rainforest Alliance is working widely to addresses sustainability in agro farms and their supply chains.
Rainforest Alliance certification
This is a certification for the products and ingredients which support the three areas of sustainability: social, economic, and environmental. Its seal elaborates the combination of people and nature and allows you to recognize the products that contribute to a better future for both people and the planet
What’s behind the seal?
Perhaps you may have seen a seal with a little frog on most of the agricultural products. That’s the seal of rain forest alliance certification and, it provides some positive ideas to the customer about the product. Scientists have identified the frogs are bioindicators of nature. That means a healthy population of frogs indicates a healthy environment and vise versa.
The rainforest alliance selected the red-eyed tree frog which is commonly found in tropical rain forests. Because the founders initially started the campaign to protect the rainforest in the world. Since then, the little red-eyed frog has become the symbol of the certification seal.
Rainforest Alliance 2020 Certification Program
Tea is considered the second most consumed beverage after water. Yet the tea industry is facing a lot of social, economical, and environmental issues such as labor shortage, low production, climate change, environmental pollution, and high cost of production. The rain forest alliance aims to mitigate these issues and promote sustainability in the tea sector. The rainforest alliance works with tea estates, smallholder tea farms, and the companies in the tea supply chain to overcome those issues to get a more sustainable tea.
Rainforest Alliance Certified tea is grown according to the guidelines of sustainable agriculture standards which consist of a wide range of farming, social and environmental criteria. The followings are some common features of a Rainforest Alliance-certified tea estate.
- Protect forests, natural resources, and biodiversity in the cultivation fields.
- Implement stronger soil conservation practices in the tea fields.
- Improve waste management in the estate.
- Provide better training for workers on natural ecosystem conservation.
- Provide safer living and working conditions, higher benefits to estate workers, and access to the children’s education.
- Address human rights issues such as poor working conditions, law wages, child and forced labor, and gender inequality.
- Train farmers to grow crops using climate-smart agriculture while adapting to climate impacts.
That’s means if you enjoy a cup of Rainforest Alliance-certified tea; you are helping to protect biodiversity, human rights, climate crisis, and to improve the live hood of the people.
Criteria to consider for the certification process of a tea estate
- Management: Management plan, administration, risk management, internal inspection, self-assessment.
- Traceability: Traceability in the online platform.
- Income and shared responsibility: production cost and living income, sustainability differential, sustainability income.
- Farming: Planting and rotation, pruning and renovation of tea crops, post-harvest management, agrochemical management, prohibition of transgenic crops.
- Social: child labor, forced labor, discrimination, workplace violence and harassment, gender inequality.
- Environmental: Protecting biodiversity, soil conservation, wasteland conservation, waste management, energy efficiency, riparian buffers, wastewater management, and greenhouse gas reduction.
Steps to implement Rainforest Alliance certification for a tea estate
1. Prepare your estate or company for the certification audit
The first step is to prepare your place for the audit. You should strictly follow the guidelines and the sustainable agricultural standard. At the same time should review all the rules and policies before an audit. You can get an assist from a local representative or online training.
2. Contact an authorized Rainforest Alliance certification.
Next, you should contact an authorized certification body in your area to get your estate certified. Then they will start the audit process. This audit will determine whether you are truly following the Sustainable Agriculture standard. The audit fees can vary with the size of the estate, its location, and its complexity.
3. Host your estate audit
After you chose a certification body, the auditors will visit your estate. During this visit, they will conduct field audits and make sure you are strictly complying with the Sustainable Agriculture Standard.
After your audit, the certifying body will give the marks and let you know whether your estate meets all of the requirements of the standard. If you pass you can go for the next step. But if you fail, you have to try again with their feedbacks.
4. Sell your Rainforest Alliance Certified tea
You can sell your tea after you have successfully passed the audit. You can sell your tea as Rainforest Alliance certified tea. Before that, you have to register your product in the Rainforest Alliance marketplace platform to use the seal.
Benefits of Rainforest Alliance certification
- Benefits for producers/farmers
This certification has brought great social, environmental, and economical benefits to the producers as it gives national recognition awakens the partners, employees, and the population. Moreover, it provides environmental awareness, which includes protection of wildlife, soil conservation, and avoiding prohibited agrochemicals to the fields.
- Benefits for exporters
The certification can add value to the product with its recognition and it can create a new market also. Rainforest alliance tea has a huge demand in the world market and now it’s becoming a trend to export certified tea than uncertified tea.
- Benefits for consumer
Buying tea from Rainforest Alliance certified estates will give you the feeling that you can do something to change the world. Unknowingly, you are supporting sustainable agriculture to improve biodiversity, forest recovery and support farmers and their families while having high-quality tea.