The newsletter

Profile:
Rungwe Smallholder Tea Growers Association (RSTGA)
Product focus: Tea
Location: Tukuyu, Tanzania
Type: Small scale producer – 15,000 farmers
Fairtrade certified since: 2001
Contact: Juma Liganja –
juma.rstga@yahoo.com

Challenge:
With 15,000 members spread over 118 villages it is hard to stay in touch with each individual of RSTGA. Some farmers can be reached via text messages by mobile phone, but this is not always the case.

Solution:
Five years ago, Juma Liganja, Accounts Manager at RSTGA, started with a newsletter to update the community on current issues. The newsletter is a straightforward one pager, which is sent out on a monthly base. It is written by Juma, with input from members of the Executive Committee – who also proofread the document. Stories which were featured in the last issues included the announcement of the type of fertilizer the organisation is using this year, the price of Green Leaf tea, changes in the payment system etc. Also Fairtrade news is announced via this tool, e.g. when an auditor is expected to visit the villages, farmers are notified. Due to its effectiveness, RSTGA is planning to expand the scope of the newsletter, including more social topics like tips on how to adapt to climate change or healthcare issues like AIDS or malaria. Of every issue 118 copies are printed – for each village one. The STWGA villages are grouped per ten. When the latest newsletter is out, a representative per village group picks up 10 copies with his motorbike. The newsletters are then hung in the village office, where farmers come to collect their money.

Cost:
With 50 USD per issue, the cost of the newsletter is low. Most costly is the printing process, which is paid with the farmers’ fee – each RSTGA member pays the organisation 3 TZ (or 0,002 USD) per kilo tea sold.

Result:
The newsletter today is RSTGA’s main tool to communicate to all its members and has so far been effective. Juma agrees not every farmer enjoys reading the letter and the organisation is now looking into setting up a local radio station. But the plans are still in a preliminary phase and until then the newsletter will remain playing a crucial role in the communication between management and tea farmers.