Development status of QINGSHAN tea garden & Chenzhou-JIETAN COMPANY
The partnership between Fairbiotea and the Qingshan tea garden will continue with regard to the distributed amount of tea.
After the recent inspection in May 2017, Fairbiotea came to the conclusion that for the Qingshan tea garden there is no more need for further consulting or financial support concerning the organic tea cultivation. The development goals have been achieved. Fairbiotea will keep financing the labour costs for the compost managers and the cattle breeding, cooperate with the tea garden and support it by ordering large tea quantities. The consulting activities and the financing of further development measures have been ceased. The tea garden management will now continue following the path towards sustainability on their own responsibility without the constant help of Fairbiotea.
Already in our newsletter from 2016, we have described the ongoing positive development. This has also been confirmed by the organic third country control body CERES.
The analytical methods in Europe are steadily improving and more and more hazardous substances from natural sources or from the general environmental pollution are being detected. That’s why we will have to continue to work on minimisation measures in the future. It is an illusion to think that organic farming and the nature could be free from all hazardous substances. However, organic products contain only a fraction of the chemical residues that are present in non-organic products.
The worldwide environmental pollution by emissions and chemicals does not refrain from contaminating agricultural areas and affects both the conventional agriculture as well as the organic production. If contaminants are found in the tea, research has to be done on where they come from or by which chemical processes they are generated (e.g. by the heat during the drying of the tea) and which possibilities there are to reduce the residues to a tolerable level. Unfortunately, the environmental laws worldwide are not strict enough to prevent harmful contamination. It cannot be the responsibility of the food companies to remove or reduce the contaminations of the food deriving from environmental pollution, while the environment keeps being contaminated and the polluters are not prosecuted. The legislators are required to act here.
Modernisation and minimisation of hazardous substances
The new modern final processing factory, in which the Qingshan tea is now being processed, has been finalised.
In all areas of the tea production, any possible action was taken in order to prevent the contamination of the tea as far as possible. Considerable efforts have been undertaken to minimise contamination by environmental chemicals. For this purpose, rebuilding measures in the tea factories and modifications in the production process were necessary. The processing machines have been converted from wood and coal combustion to electric energy, within the limits of the structural possibilities of the producers. The connection between environmental pollution and tea contamination has already been described in our newsletter 2016.
No prohibited plant protection products can be detected in the tea of Qingshan tea garden.
Compost research project
The compost research project completed in 2017, that Fairbiotea carried out for years in the Qingshan tea garden provides a contribution for the protection of the plants and the environment and will make the soil of the tea garden more productive. Until then, the production in the next years will continue to be rather low.
In 2017, Fairbiotea has purchased the last missing machines that are necessary for a modern large-scale compost production.
Large-scale production of compost
The small problems in compost production and application that we described in our newsletter will also occur in the future. However, they must be solved by the tea garden management and the compost managers, whose responsibility is now required.
The large-scale compost production is going to be continued.
Rendered bonus payments for the sustainable development
The Fairbiotea bonus system has been reduced now after ten years of support. During this time, the Qingshan tea garden received approximately 500,000 Euro of bonus payments and consulting services from Fairbiotea, which have been invested in the sustainable development of the tea garden.
In the context of the purchase guarantee given by Fairbiotea, approximately 2500 tons of organic tea have been exported from the Qingshan tea garden to Germany during this period.
Until 2017, Fairbiotea has initiated and co-financed the following development actions for the Qingshan tea garden:
- Tractor as a drive unit for different devices used in compost production and for towing a trailer
- a front loader
- mowers for large areas
- a shredder
- a compost cover of 5x50 metres
- measuring instruments for checking the oxygen concentration and moisture content in the compost
- compost turner (self-propelled)
- sifting machine for large quantities of compost
- a new truck
- new electrically driven and electrically heated machines for the tea processing in the preprocessing factory
- a paved way to the place for large-scale compost production
- annual salaries for two compost managers
- annual salary for the manager of the cattle breeding
- purchase of animals for cattle breeding
- stable buildings
- remuneration of the Fairbiotea consultant and project manager of the compost reasearch project
- 100 shade trees
- Demeter training for farm managers
- UTZ training for the UTZ sustainability certification
- complete equipment for a new multimedia room for the Xiaojiaqiao elementary school, which is attended by the children of the Qingshan tea garden
- road construction from the tea garden to the Xiaojiaqiao elementary school
- road construction within the tea garden
Tea prices, export and sustainable social development
Since Fairbiotea exists, we have repeatedly reported on the contradiction of the market forces in Europe.
The growing demand of European consumers and manufacturers for ever cheaper but still sustainably produced goods is a contradiction. If something is very cheap, then it cannot be produced sustainably and it is inevitably of poor quality. Sustainably manufactured products are inevitably more expensive than those that are not produced sustainably. Expensive products usually have a better quality. The big demand for cheap products in Europe has a negative impact on the sustainable development in developing countries.
Although the revenues of producers and their employees have increased over the years, the production costs and the cost of living have risen much faster. This makes it increasingly difficult for producers to finance the sustainable production desired by the European consumers. The pressure for the producers is also increasing, because, for example, in China there are statutory regulations that are valid only for plantation farms and these have to finance their implementation.
At the same time, there is the multitude of peasants to whom no labour law is applicable, who keep being exploited by Chinese profiteers and who cannot comply with sustainability requirements. Partially, one could call this slavery. The farmers are poor, dependent and forced to satisfy the European request for cheap tea. But the European price expectations can only be met through exploitation.
The companies that work in a sustainable way are struggling to produce goods at the requested prices. For the Europeans there is a gap between desire and reality. They want healthy, sustainably produced and high-quality organic products, manufactured in consideration of environmental protection, nature and wildlife preservation as well as with social responsibility and adequately paid producers. In addition, there is the compliance with quality management systems, modernisation measures and the implementation of European food regulations. All this should also be accompanied by a multitude of certification procedures and quality seals, which are expensive and whose effectiveness should be questioned. All this must be paid by the producers in the developing countries. The European enterprises very rarely participate in these costs. In reality, neither the European manufacturers nor the European consumers want to pay the product prices that would be necessary to make these wishes come true.
For this ambivalence, honesty is often abandoned, and the certifications only serve the marketing that makes the consumers believe that the products labelled with sustainability seals are actually sustainably produced and fulfil the customer’s sustainability aspirations.
Many consumers close their eyes and act against a better knowledge and contrary to their own desires. In the age of communication, it is possible to find reliable information at any time. In the end, traders and consumers do not want to know exactly and are more interested in a low price than in high quality and sustainable responsibility. This collective selfish European behaviour has enormous negative consequences for the producers and the rural population in the producing countries, for ecology, economy, welfare, up to the rural depopulation. We experience the effects of this behaviour with the flow of refugees coming to Europe in recent years.
The implications in the long run will slow down the sustainable development. And this is because sustainable development costs the producers a lot of money, which should be paid by the Europeans who buy the products. Sustainability has to be financed with the revenue surpluses from the export. If no surplus can be realised, then no sustainable production is possible.