113 Purchasing The strike of 2017 Part of every good partnership is weathering bad times together Which is what happened in the sum mer of 2017 when a politically motivated strike shut down the Darjeeling tea gardens for 104 days For our partner Ambootia this work stoppage meant failed harvests lignified tea plants and overgrown planta tions a lot of work had to be done after the strike was over And a lot of tea cups remained unfilled around the world What was the strike about Members of the Nepa lese speaking Gorkha minority make up the majority of the employees in the Darjeeling tea gardens This ethnic group feels disadvantaged by the government and has been demanding its own state Gorkhaland for almost a century now In June 2017 the smoul dering conflict flared up yet again due to the decision of the West Bengal state government to make Bengali a compulsory subject in state schools But not only the tea plantations were impacted by the strike The second economic pillar of the Darjeeling region tourism also suffered as a result Thousands of tourists were stranded in the mountainous region businesses and restaurants remained closed At the end of the strike all parties agreed to refocus on democratic values and seek dialogue going forward The year 1998 marked the beginning of the partnership between Lebensbaum and Am bootia Though the former was located in Lower Saxony Germany and the latter in north ern India the two got on well from day one because both had had to overcome similar obstacles and scepticism Over the past 20 years a close partnership has developed And we don t just collaborate in the production of outstanding teas Whether it s com post projects documentary films or climate saving tea cultivation we do a lot together And a lot has happened in this period Ambootia acquired more and more ailing tea plan tations in Darjeeling and later in Assam and turned them around using biodynamic agri culture We experienced strikes most recently in 2017 that brought work in the tea gardens to a standstill for weeks In 2014 we worked together to recover from the shock after the main Ambootia tea garden burned completely to the ground Many of us also keep in touch outside of work After all to day the internet makes many things possible An employee in Corporate Communications in Diepholz can immediate ly see photos posted by a quality manager in India showing green tea fields thriving and blossoming And this also brings us closer together 20 Years of partnership

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