Sanjay Bansal

At altitudes of up to 2,300 metres, the conditions are ideal for the cultivation of fine teas. Even so, in the 1970s, the region around Darjeeling in northern India went into decline.

Many of the area’s exclusive tea plantations found themselves on the verge of bankruptcy. The reason? The ever-increasing use of chemicals had exhausted the soil. The result? Reduced yields, soil erosion, landslides and, finally, worker protests.

These were the circumstances under which Sanjay Bansal took over AMBOOTIA tea plantation from his father – and turned tea cultivation upside down. He decided to grow tea using biodynamic methods. The residents of the tea plantation went along somewhat sceptically with this “new” approach, and the soil needed three years to recover. But, once the worst was over, the leaves began to grow wonderfully – as did people’s trust in the Bansal family.

“In 1991, we converted one piece of land to organic agriculture, and it wasn't long before we saw the first changes. The soil was different, but so was the environment: we had more insects, more birds and more animals. The whole life of the plantation started to change. And its ecological cycle stabilised – we had far fewer pests than before”.

Alongside AMBOOTIA, Sanjay Bansal has now taken over 17 further tea plantations, all of which are cultivated biodynamically. In the process, numerous jobs have been created. 49,000 people benefit from the AMBOOTIA model: workers get a share of the profits, they are supported in the construction of their homes, they have access to free medical care, and their children attend schools funded by the plantation. The logic behind this approach is not entirely selfless: if the people are doing well, then they also work well.