Community mobilisers are functioning as a crucial link between small tea growers and TRINITEA to help establish sustainability in tea cultivation.
Dipankar Borasaikia travels about 20 km every day to meet the small tea growers (STGs) in different villages in Assam. It has been a year since he joined as a community mobiliser with TRINITEA.
“It feels good to be able to help the small tea growers and make them aligned with the TRINITEA programme,” says the 27-year-old from Assam’s Tinsukia district.
TRINITEA has over 70,000 small farmers enrolled with the programme that handholds the small tea growers into good agricultural practices to produce high quality, safe and sustainable tea. It employs a smartphone application for farmers to assure their produce on food safety, quality and sustainability standards.
The TRINITEA application requires farmers to fill in details about their farm and farming practices using their smartphones. The community mobilisers (CMs) help the farmers acclimatise with the digital application.
“The growers are not yet very proficient with using technology. Hence, the community mobilisers assist them in the self-assessment process on the TRINITEA digital platform. Besides ensuring that the data collected is uploaded smoothly on the mobile application, they also keep in touch with the STG associations and different anchalik (regional/area-based) office bearers to ensure that the programme runs smoothly,” says Tasdiq Ghaznavi, a senior consultant with TRINITEA.
The CMs are also playing a pivotal role in bringing more farmers into the fold of good agronomic practices promoted by TRINITEA. They organise trainings and knowledge sharing sessions for the STGs and operate even through WhatsApp and SMS to disseminate information related to their land and tea cultivation.
“I tell the small growers about the programme and its initiatives, also informing them about how they can benefit from implementing better field practices. They are also made aware of the fact that there are no costs attached to the programme,” says Dipankar.
He has embraced the responsibilities as a social cause and admits to enjoying every second of it.
For community mobilisers, it is about taking pride in their responsibilities. They know that connecting with the locals is key to bringing the desired change for the small tea growers in Assam.
Min Upadhayaya, another community mobiliser from Jagun, Assam, affirms, “I have helped 1,000 growers to introduce with TRINITEA. The growth of these farmers depends largely on the way they grow their tea. The TRINITEA programme provides guidance in that direction and that will help the farmers immensely.”
TRINITEA employs a holistic approach to help small growers move up in the value chain—from being at the bottom rung of the ladder to becoming active and equal participants in the chain. The programme encourages growers to organise themselves into self-help groups and leverage their collective strength into becoming manufacturers and carving out an identity for their own brand of good quality, safe and sustainably grown tea.
The community mobilisers are engaged by TRINITEA based on recommendations from the STG associations. They often function as the de facto representatives of the associations that allow them the legitimacy to reach out to the small tea growers.
“The community mobilisers are the link between the producers and the programme. They not only help the growers in their assessments and reporting, but also aid in building the trust of the STGs in the programme. They also efficient in maintaining a record of the improvement graph of every plantation,” Tasdiq mentions.
“The growers have begun to rely on us completely. They tell us about their problems and we try our best to offer them the most suitable solutions. On a personal level, I have also benefited from TRINITEA—I have learnt how to interact better with people,” admits Dipankar.
People like Dipankar Borsaikia and Min Upadhayaya are invaluable assets to the TRINITEA programme, going those extra miles, literally, to educating and empowering growers about their tea, their rights and the available opportunities for their business growth.