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“It’s basically a race up the mountain,” says Simon Hotchkin, head of sustainability at Taylors of Harrogate, which buys leaves from this part of Kenya for its Yorkshire Tea blend.
Recent climate change modelling by the brand shows that the traditional rainy seasons could become more unpredictable, more sporadic and less defined by 2030.
“The areas where tea is currently suitable to grow become much less suitable in the future,” he explains.
“What’s happened is that the ‘window of suitability’ drives it further and further up the mountain.
More than half of Britain’s tea is grown in Kenya, with 62,000 tons imported to the UK in 2017.
That’s 165 million cups a day – the equivalent of 20 Olympic swimming pools.
Planting trees and reducing deforestation also protects the quality of the land that the farmers rely on for growing tea and the other crops they depend on for produce.
Patrick Kimathi, 52, from Kianjogu, another (farm) owner with the project, has been planting banana trees for as long as he has been farming.
More importantly, the trees are helping Kenya combat climate change, which poses a real challenge to the tea-growing industry there.For tea-obsessed Brits, this could amount to a 40 per cent bump in the price of English Breakfast.For smallholder farmers growing leaves for the blend on Mount Kenya, the cost is far greater Five years ago, Mimuga started planting trees.The tea pickers have come back from the fields and they are all crying,” says Festus Mugambi Mimuga.Looking out from his farm in the lowlands of Mount Kenya, around 2,000m up, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is not a place touched by drought.
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“This is only the third day of rain [this season],” he says, “but we are very worried because there isn’t so much water.