Our tea estates

Where are they?

Our tea estates can be found in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda. In this article, we’ll take a close look at Kenya: look out for pieces on Tanzania and Rwanda here soon.

In Kenya, our tea estates are at Kericho and Limuru. Kericho is the biggest town in Kericho County, in the highlands west of the Rift Valley on the edge of the Mau Forest. It’s about a five-hour drive north-west of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. Limuru is just an hour from Nairobi, and home to our smaller plantation, nestled beneath the Ngong Hills.

How big are the tea estates?

Our tea estates at Kericho and Limuru cover a combined area of 14,396 hectares. That’s big enough to fit in Wembley Stadium’s famous soccer pitch about 20,000 times. Around 382 hectares is completely organic, making it one of the largest organic tea estates in the world.

But not everything’s devoted to tea. Around 40% of our land is either under conservation; planted with gum trees; or providing vital infrastructure like houses and roads.

How many people work there?
How many people work there?

How many people work there?

We have around 5,500 ekaterra colleagues working full-time on the estates. At peak harvesting times, they’re joined by several thousand temporary tea-pickers too. All in all, we estimate our tea estates are supporting over 50,000 people, when you include all the workers, their families,, and other dependents.

Working conditions
Working conditions

Working conditions

We’re proud to offer some of the best working conditions in Kenya, particularly in the agricultural sector. We provide housing, clean water, paid holidays, transport allowances, maternity and paternity leave, and free meals for non-management employees while at work.

We’ve built infrastructure for nursery, primary and secondary school education for children, and provide free healthcare for all workers and signed-up dependents.

How else does ekaterra help the community?

We recognize what a privilege it is to have so much nature under our stewardship. And we understand that with this privilege comes responsibility.

Since joining the Kenyan community, we’ve built 50 early childhood development centres, 20 primary schools, and five secondary schools. We’ve also founded six daycare centres, five medical centres, fifteen dispensaries, and one central hospital. And we’ve constructed 12,000 houses for our workers and their families.

These facilities are open to neighboring communities, too. In fact, two-thirds of children in the primary schools we have founded come from communities beyond our tea estates.

How we maintain high standards?

We have clear policies in place for maintaining high standards: everyone connected to our tea estates needs to follow them.

They’re central to achieving our strategy, which is about becoming a truly sustainable tea plantation, able to grow delicious teas and improve livelihoods both now and in future.

Here’s a rundown of some of our policies:

  • Our Code of Business Principles commits us to running our tea estates with honesty, integrity and openness. If there are ever any concerns, we’ll always investigate and respond professionally, safely and fairly.

  • We take a zero-tolerance approach to any form of discrimination, including sexual harassment. This approach is embedded our Code of Business Principles, our Responsible Sourcing Policy and our Responsible Business Partner Policy too.

  • Through our Occupational Health and Safety & Environmental policies, we set out our commitment to providing safe, healthy working conditions, while meeting the needs of our customers in an environmentally sustainable way. We’ll never allow any form of forced, compulsory or child labour.

  • Our SHE Framework Standards on Environmental Care and Occupational Health & Safety set out how we manage these areas throughout ekaterra. They mirror ISO 14001 (for environmental management systems) and OHSAS 18001 (for occupational health).

  • We carry out annual risk assessments of working conditions and health and safety. Through these, we look in detail at task-specific risks, how equipment is used, and overall workplace ergonomics. Where risks are identified, colleagues’ wellbeing is monitored carefully, with mandatory occupational medical check-ups each year.