The tea landscape of Assam: Multi-stakeholder insights into sustainable livelihoods under a changing climate

Eloise M. Biggs, Niladri Gupta, Sukanya D. Saikia, John M.A. Duncan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Tea plays a pivotal role in India's national economy, with the state of Assam the world's largest regional producer of black tea. However, various socio-environmental factors are threatening tea production and the livelihoods of millions of people reliant upon the industry. Little documentation exists which provides comprehensive spatial insights into tea production practices and associated livelihoods. Additionally, vulnerability from climate change to those livelihoods dependent upon the tea landscape has received limited multi-level stakeholder qualification. Consequently, this paper goes towards addressing this knowledge deficit through adopting a sustainable livelihoods approach for investigating the tea landscape of Assam. Mixed social survey methods were used to document responses from multiple stakeholder groups representing managers of commercial plantations, smallholders and tea workers. Results provide a comprehensive insight into the livelihoods of those reliant upon tea production activities across the four major tea growing regions of Assam. Outputs indicate that varying production practices are in place to optimise yield, increase livelihood resilience and manage the landscape effectively under a changing climate, with tea workers possessing varying diversity in assets to support their livelihoods. Outcomes from this research highlight the need for adaptable and climate-smart landscape activities, with active support from expert tea advisory agencies, to promote long-term socio-environmental sustainable cultivation of tea under changing climatic conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-18
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


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