Tasankha tea nursery’s first forays into the business world

Funds for farmer-run nurseries to help develop a profitable smallholder sector

In December 2017, 25 tea farmers under Sukambizi Association Trust set up Tasankha tea nursery with a view to raising tea seedlings and expanding their tea gardens. The group identified land for the nursery construction and raised membership contributions to build the nursery fence and buy 21,000 planting pots. Once this was done, they were still lacking tea cuttings and other nursery tools and so they approached the Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP).

In May 2018, ETP provided the group with 15,000 additional pots and other equipment and discussed with them a change in approach; instead of sharing the tea seedlings among the group members, they would sell them within the group and to fellow farmers. This new approach was welcomed as the farmers regarded it as a way of ensuring the sustainability of the activity even after external support was phased out. The group has so far raised a total of 54,000 tea seedlings of which 51,000 have survived.

A farmer tending to seedlings at her group’s tea nursery  [Credit: ETP]
ETP included Tasankha nursery in the business coaching pilot that commenced in August 2019. The group has received tailored sessions on group dynamics, marketing and record keeping, and is being supported with the development of detailed operational plans and budgets. The group has developed by-laws around the running of the nursery and is exploring alternate sources of finance to ensure long- term sustainability.

 

 

This group had 30,000 tea seedlings ready for marketing in the season commencing in November 2019; it has allocated 12,000 seedlings for sale to non-group members and 18,000 seedlings for sale to the nursery members at a discounted rate. The expected total revenue is MKW 1,500,000.00, USD 1,985.654, which will be reinvested in the nursery and used alongside money from Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) loans to purchase new tea cuttings.

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