Nepal is an agrarian country and agriculture is the main livelihood base of people. Nearly 68% of Nepal’s people depend on agriculture for livelihoods. Nepalese agriculture contributes about 33% to national GDP. Tea production is labor intensive and the industry offers job opportunities in remote rural areas. Millions of livelihoods around the world depend on tea plucking and processing. Tea plays a significant role in rural development, poverty reduction and food security and is one of the most important cash crops. The sustainable and socially equitable development of the Nepali tea industry is considered to be pivotal in poverty alleviation and the empowerment of rural women. It also improves the gender-disparity in employment in rural communities through provision of large-scale livelihood for women.

While tea production by small growers is rising worldwide, their condition is often challenging because the values they are paid for their green tea leaves tend to be below the cost of their production. Issues constraining smallholders include low farm gate prices, poor extension services, limited market accesses, poor access to credit and low level of farmer organization along with some climatic factors are affecting the sustainable livelihoods of small-scale farmers in tea producing district of eastern Nepal. Tea cultivation is attractive to small growers because it provides work opportunity and income throughout the year, requires comparatively less investment, labour is available on a casual basis and the risk of complete crop failure is small. Furthermore, because of changes in weather patterns, such as fluctuating temperature, rainfall and frequent extreme weather conditions, the incomes of tea small growers’ risk being lost as the plucking days decrease, which would impact negatively on food security. In this paper, I’m trying to document that despite all those negative impacts how small growers are coping with the situation and made it sustainable for their livelihood purpose. The study investigated the strategies applied for sustainability of tea small growers of Ilam and guided by two main objectives and a structured questionnaire and in-depth interviews were used as the principal data collection tools.

Keywords: Sustainable Livelihood, Livelihood Assets, Small Tea Growers, Risk Management, food security, Ilam,