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Tea gardens: Workers and Standard of Living

The tea cultivation in Darjeeling has led to a remarkable well-being in the area. Due to the comparatively good income situation in the tea gardens, the standard of living in Darjeeling is higher than in most other rural areas in India.

The average number of permanently employed workers is around 600 – 700 on each garden. The majority of these are women. Half of the pay is cash, half is in kind like medical care for whole the family, accommodation, subsidized stable food etc.

On top of this is a bundle of other benefits for the workers and their families, from free primary school education to milk-programmes, from free firewood to personal utensils. There is an infant nutrition programme, and sponsored cultural and sports activities, especially those for the youth, play an important role.

The workers are payed even during the unproductive winter periode (ca. 4 months) - a heavy burden on the tea gardens on the other hand. In total, approximately 65% of the expenditure of a tea garden is on wages and (social) welfare.

All these improvements made the workers proud of their product. For that it is very important to them to be sure, that their unique Darjeeling tea is not blended with cheaper teas from other origins - but labelled as Darjeeling. And here comes the Geographical Indication in the game...