11 August 2014 – As part of a wider commitment to sustainable sourcing of all of its key agricultural materials by 2020, Unilever has announced it will collaborate with CABI, to undertake a major scientific research study evaluating the environmental and economic feasibility of applying alternative methods to protect tea from pests in India. This move is aimed at fostering better understanding of, evaluating current growing practices in and raising the bar on sustainable production of tea.

In the coming weeks, CABI will review existing crop protection management practices and limitations to current techniques. In cooperation with the Tea Board of India, the Tea Research Institutes and key industry partners, CABI will then design protocols for pilot field-trials to investigate novel approaches for management of pests. These pilots will then be run in partnership with the Tea Board and tea growers on selected estates.

The results of the Unilever-funded CABI research will provide a firm foundation for tea growers, government and industry to define a clear roadmap for the short and medium term. Looking at the impact to growers, Dr Trevor Nicholls, CABI’s CEO, said, “We’re delighted that CABI has been selected to work on this project. As a science-based development organization, one of our goals is to help farmers grow better crops more sustainably, and this project does just that.”

Dr Julie Flood, CABI’s Global Director, Trade and Commodities, said, “This project is the latest in a series of projects where CABI, in public-private partnership, is contributing to sustainable production of a number of commodities through reducing pesticide use. It represents good news for consumers and producers alike.”

Agricultural trade is a powerful engine for economic growth, poverty alleviation and food security, but harnessing this power can be difficult. CABI helps integrate farmers into global supply chains, linking the producer and consumer agendas. Supporting sustainable production is one of the ways that CABI helps farmers to increase trade potential and access markets.

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