Tea farms

Assistance to obtain Rainforest Alliance certification

Kirin Gogo-no-Kocha is the No. 1 tea drink brand in Japan, selling approximately 1.3 billion bottles a year. Ever since its launch over 30 years ago, tea leaves harvested in Sri Lanka have been used as ingredients. When we conducted a biodiversity risk assessment in 2010-2012, we learned that approximately 25%* of Sri Lankan tea leaves imported by Japan were used for Kirin Gogo-no-Kocha. In order to continue producing tasty and safe tea drinks, we have been supporting willing Sri Lankan tea farms to obtain Rainforest Alliance certification since 2013.

  • Source: 2011 Tea Statistics, Japan Tea Association

Supportiing Growers Obtain Rainforest Alli ance Certification

  • Supportiing Growers Obtain Rainforest Alli ance Certification

As of the end of 2019, 87 large tea farms, or approximately 30% of the large tea farms certified by the Rainforest Alliance in Sri Lanka, were certified with Kirin’s support. In the training for obtaining certification, tea farms are guided to preserve forests, investigate and protect wildlife, and carry out waste-sorting and recycling. They also learn how to prevent the loss of fertile farm soil due to heavy rainfall during the rainy season by planting grass with deep roots on the steep slopes of farms, and ways to reduce pesticides and fertilizers. As a result, tea farms become environmentally friendly and can enhance their agriculture level as they improve the quality of tea leaves while reducing production costs. This also contributes to improving the skills of farm workers, and safety management and living standards, enabling the farms to carry out more sustainable agriculture. Meanwhile, Kirin can continuously procure high-quality and safe tea leaves that are sustainable.
Furthermore, in an effort to achieve even higher levels of sustainability, some farms have begun conducting research aimed at significantly increasing yields and undertaking the challenge of pursuing chemical-free cultivation, as initiatives beyond the certification criteria requirements.

  • Percentage of large tea farms that obtained certification with support from the Kirin Group

  • Establishing methods for distinguishing between harmless and noxious weeds, and only removing the weeds that have an adverse impact on the tea bushes will make it possible to grow tea without the use of chemical pesticides. This will reduce the costs of farm chemicals and improve farmer earnings, while also increasing the safety of the tea leaves.

Assistance for small farms and conservation of farm water sources

Based on what has been achieved so far, we launched three new initiatives in 2018 to further increase the sustainability of tea farmers.

1.Expansion of training programs for large farms

We will expand our support to more farms and further increase the percentage of our Sri Lankan suppliers that are highly sustainable farms.

2.Commencement of assistance for small farms to obtain certification

In Sri Lanka, many small, family-run farms exist. There are said to be several hundreds of thousands of such small farms in Sri Lanka.The tea leaves grown on these small farms are collected by government-qualified collectors and sold on to the large farms in the vicinity, before being processed in the factory and shipped. Tea leaves from small farms can sometimes account for as much as half or more of the tea leaves processed in the large farms’ plants.As such, in order to further enhance the sustainability of black tea leaves and production regions, we began assisting small farms to obtain certification in 2018.We plan to have assisted 10,000 small farms to obtain certification by 2025.

  • 図:Commencement of assistance for small farms to obtain certification

3.Commencement of activities for the conservation of water sources for tea farms supported by the Kirin Group

  • A state of the seminar in Sri Lanka. In the certification of small farms, multiple farms join up to form teams and decide on the team leader. Local trainers first educate these leaders, who then educate the other farms in their team on the certification criteria to obtain the certification.

For details, see “Conservation activities for water sources on tea farms” on Conservation activities for water sources on tea farms

Expansion of book donations to elementary schools

Good quality tea leaves from Sri Lanka are essential for Kirin Gogo-no-Kocha. In 2007, the year following the product’s 20-year anniversary, we launched the Kirin Sri Lanka Friendship Project to further strengthen ties with Sri Lankan tea farms and continue seeing stable production of tea leaves. In this project, we donate, on a continual basis, bookshelves and books to each of the schools that the children of the tea farm workers attend, with the aim of raising the educational level of children who will lead the next generation and to contribute to the stability of farm management. We have already made donations to about 180 schools and plan to continue to increase the number of schools to which donations are made.