Changing climate and the value of the tea landscape in Assam

Eloise M. Biggs, N. Gupta, J. Duncan, S.D. D. Saikia

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Tea production has a measurable impact upon millions of people's livelihoods in northeast India. The region is experiencing changes in climate characteristics which are placing added pressure on the tea industry for sustaining livelihoods. To increase understanding of the role of tea within the Assam landscape, this research has engaged with multiple local tea-producing stakeholders. Approximately 65% of Assam's tea is produced in large plantations, with the remaining 35% produced in smallholdings. Questionnaires were used to obtain information on land management practices operationalised by plantation managers and smallholders. Focus group sessions using the Delphi technique were conducted with tea workers (labourers for the plantations) to ascertain the level of importance of the tea sector to sustaining their livelihoods. Questionnaires and focus group surveys also attempted to establish stakeholder understanding of climate change. Data were analysed using spatial statistics to investigate intra- and inter-region variation in responses. Focus group responses were categorised to determine the livelihood asset base available to tea workers within plantations, with patterns of (dis)similarity observed spatially. Results indicate that land management practices (e.g. fertiliser and pesticide application), tea processing methods (e.g. onsite factory and energy generation), and social provisions for tea workers (e.g. sanitation and education facilities) varied greatly across the main tea growing regions of Assam. Tea workers listed numerous environmental and social factors as important for sustaining livelihoods, with the top ranked factors similar across some plantations (e.g. drinking water availability and access). Plantation managers are highly concerned with how climate conditions are affecting tea production, and although workers were aware of climate change issues in some plantations, socioeconomic conditions seemed of more pressing concern to their livelihoods.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
EventAmerican Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2015 - San Francisco, United States
Duration: 14 Dec 201518 Dec 2015


ConferenceAmerican Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco


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