Kolkata: A sustainability code and verification system for the country’s tea sector Tuesday said it has verified 608 million kgs of tea till February 2019, which is almost half of the total tea produced in the country annually. The program – trustea is currently convened by IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative and supported by Indian packaged tea majors Hindustan Unilever Limited, Tata Global Beverages Limited and Wagh Bakri Tea Group. It is working with smallholder tea growers, bought leaf factories, estates and packers to address some of the key challenges in the industry including poor working conditions, health and safety of tea workers, water pollution, food safety, soil erosion and contamination, trustea said in a statement. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: Mamata It has been trying create a positive impact on nearly 49,000 smallholder tea growers, three lakh women workers and 2.5 lakh male tea workers certifying over 460 estates and bought leaf factories. “A rising demand for food safety and sustainable produce is making trustea increasingly relevant to the Indian context. The code ensures long-term sustainability of the industry,” trustea general manager Rajesh Bhuyan said. The company, he said, has verified 608 million kgs of tea out of the total 1325 million kg, or 46 per cent of the beverage produced in the country annually till February 2019. Also Read – Lightning kills 8, injures 16 in state Consultative Committee of Plantation Associations (CCPA), United Planters Association of South India (UPASI), Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) and over 460 verified producers across the country are also part of the initiative. Tata Global Beverages, one of the key partners of the trustea program, has committed to source 100 per cent of its tea as trustea-verified for the Indian market, Tata Global Beverages marketing head Puneet Das said. “India produces about 1,325 million kg of tea annually, making it the most consumed beverage. Competition in the domestic market, shortage of labour in the plantations and adverse effects of climate change are the major concerns for maintaining tea quality, which is essential for consumer health,” Tea Board director S Soundararajan said. Rainforest Alliance, an international body that certifies tea in India since 2007. International certifications help in fetching better price from exports.