Our Farm Blog

Monday, 16 September 2013

What does Sustainable Farming mean?

In recent years the prominence of environmental, social and economic challenges have raised, aggravated by climate change, population growth, soil degradation and destruction of wildlife habitat. Companies look harder into all aspects of their business to ensure long term viability not just for themselves but also the surrounding communities that their operations support.

Sustainability rests on the principle that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The stewardship of both natural and human resources is paramount. Stewardship of land natural resources involves maintaining or enhancing this vital resource base for the long term, whilst stewardship of human resources includes consideration of social responsibilities such as working and living conditions of farm workers, the needs of the rural communities and consumer health and safety both in the present and the future.

So what does Sustainable Farming mean to Williamson Tea?

Williamson Tea has always held a long term view of agriculture and the running of our farms, we are a fifth generation farming family, so know about planning for the long term!

We take a whole system approach with an understanding of wider awareness that allows us to appreciated how each activity on the farms are connected not just to the farm but also the local ecosystem, with communities affected by the farming system both locally and globally.

We consider carefully the three basic elements of sustainability;

Environment Protection; The first and most basic point, we aim to protect the natural resource base on which our farming depends, in other words sustainability in its most literal and narrow sense. As farmers and custodians of the land we understand the importance of improving soil fertility, reducing erosion and preventing water pollution, as well as strengthening biodiversity, conservation and sourcing energy from renewal sources. We are actively investing in Photovoltaic Systems for our farms to enable our factories to be powered entirely by Solar energy, whilst we are also self sufficient in firewood, sourcing all our timber from our own Eucalyptus Gum plantations.

Social Responsibility; Our farms employ many hundreds of people, who together with their families live on the farms and surrounding areas. We have a huge social responsibility towards these dependents and provide not only a safe environment for them to work in, but free housing, health care, education, family planning and importantly a level of wages in excess of any other comparable agricultural job in Kenya.  We invest in our work force helping to improve their skills and the opportunities available to them and our farms in the future.

Economic Viability; Long term success of any business depends on its economic viability and with local communities dependent on the success of the farm it is not just are own employees that we are responsible for. Whilst independent charitable schemes have their place, we are committed to the long term development of our communities and business and therefore it is ‘Trade Not Aid’ that will ensure the sustainability of Williamson Tea and our communities for years to come.