By: Journey Staff
Deep within China’s Hunan Province in Changsha, Fan Tianming, plant manager of the Jinjing Tea Company estate, arrives early each day to operate more than 4,600 hectares of sustainable tea gardens. As spring rains begin to accelerate tea leaf growth, Fan prepares for the upcoming spring harvest.
These days, Fan’s organic tea is in high demand from domestic buyers and Western companies seeking more environmentally-friendly farms.
“These gardens are very important to the people of the Hunan Province. We are demonstrating that through meaningful collective action, positive change for our environment and future generations will happen,” said Fan.
That change is greatly needed.
While Hunan Province has achieved large-scale tea production through modern industrialization, it came at a cost. Some modern practices have led to increased pollution and contamination. Combine these challenges with an increasing population, and the sustainability of land and water resources, and the safety and health of this crop was at risk.
With total tea garden areas exceeding 121,000 hectares and total yields of more than 165,000 tons, this world-renowned tea-growing region has a responsibility and opportunity to support and participate in sustainable agriculture practices. Working with Coca-Cola and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Jinjing Tea Company embraced this notion and has experienced both environmental and economic wins.
As a purchaser of agricultural ingredients for our products, at Coca-Cola we hold ourselves and our suppliers to sourcing standards that support sustainable agriculture for the long-term benefit of our Company and stakeholders, especially the farmers and communities that cultivate the crops upon which we all rely.
Partnering with WWF, we are implementing projects to help improve farm production and practices. Through the introduction of our Sustainable Agricultural Guiding Principles, new and improved processes have enabled suppliers to improve crop yields and farmer incomes while reducing environmental impact.
Coca-Cola and WWF began working with the Jinjing Tea Company in 2013 to introduce sustainable farming practices. Through collaboration, they built water-collecting and irrigation systems, constructed wetlands, and began using scientifically advanced biological fertilizers. These efforts reduced agriculture-generated pollution and improved the ecosystem and biological diversity of the tea farm. The farm now meets Coca-Cola’s sustainable sourcing requirements, passed certification of organic food in the United States and Germany, and its products are growing in demand.
Hundreds of visitors are attracted to Jinjing Tea Company gardens each week for the beautiful scenery, tea picking and sightseeing tours. This tourism adds a new source of income for the business, now a model for sustainable practices.
Coca-Cola’s sustainable agriculture efforts extend throughout China, partnering with civil society, government and business for considerable results:
- In Guangxi, we are exploring ways to achieve a mutually beneficial solution for the economy and environment by supporting sugarcane farmers in adopting various irrigation techniques designed to save water, reduce the use of pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides, and encouraging utilization of wastewater and sugarcane bagasse.
- In Songyuan, Jilin Province, we are partnering with WWF and Cargill to bring awareness to sustainable corn farming to reduce environmental impact and improve local corn growers’ income.
- In Guangyuan, with WWF, we are encouraging the sustainable planting of pear orchards, controlling the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and restoring surface vegetation to protect the small-scale river basins.
Achieving real progress on sustainable agriculture practices requires engagement from all stakeholders—civil society, government and business. Together, we can help both minimize impact and bring economic and social value to the communities we serve.