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How Abigail Smith is driving sustainability and compliance at CNTP

At Cape Natural Tea Products, we are committed to the sustainability of the industry, which is why we invest in environmentally responsible agriculture, social responsibility, and progressive health and safety initiatives across our operating sites.

In this blog, we celebrate compliance officer Abigail Smith who ensures that our Rainforest Alliance producers are compliant. She also drives several workplace initiatives to make CNTP a happy, healthy, and safe environment for all.

Abigail holds a Master of Science (MSc) in Food Science from the University of Pretoria. She has also undergone extensive training in occupational health and environment. We are proud to have her as part of our team.

How would you describe yourself in four words?

Observant. Curious. Cat mom.

What role do you play in driving the sustainability certifications we offer on our products?

I assist farmers to get Rainforest Alliance certified. This involves many farm visits to consult with farmers and workers to ensure that systems are put in place to address the sustainability and the social aspects of the standard. I also assist farmers to get and maintain organic standard certification. This also involves farm visits, documentation, and scheduling of audits.

What is Rainforest Alliance and why is it an important certification?

Rainforest Alliance is a sustainability certification that focuses on benefiting the natural environment and the people who work on farms, in such a way that ensures business can be done responsibly, sustainably, and profitably.

South Africa and especially the Western Cape where Rooibos is farmed, is blessed with incredible biodiversity. It is home to countless endangered and threatened species of fauna and flora. If you walk one step into the veld and look at the ground you can see so many different plants and insects at your feet that you would never even see unless you take a closer look. This is the beauty of our province. This is something I hope our children and our children’s children get to experience.

Rainforest Alliance certified farms do not contribute to habitat loss or the destruction of natural ecosystems. This preserves this biodiversity for future generations.

Climate change is threatening our own existence as a species. The global warming that we are undoubtedly facing leads to shorter growing seasons, droughts, famine etc. Rainforest Alliance drives sustainable practices which can improve soil quality, conserve water, increase native vegetation and carbon storage.

Apart from its intended impact on the planet, Rainforest Alliance also tackles important issues such as child labour, forced labour, poor working conditions, low wages, gender inequality, and the violation of indigenous land rights.

The cute little green frog logo is just a bonus!

What other initiatives do you drive to ensure that CNTP is a safe and healthy workplace?

I am responsible for CNTP’s compliance with the Occupation Health and Safety Act and its regulations. The Occupation Health and Safety Act’s purpose is to provide for the health and safety of all employees at work as well as any people who may be affected by the plant and, machinery and activities of employees at work.

Being in charge of Health and Safety compliance, I am responsible for putting systems in place to ensure that staff members are safe in the workplace. Providing a safe workplace that does not pose any risk to the health of our staff members is extremely important as our people are our greatest asset.

During COVID-19, with many of our admin staff working from home, it has been very important to guide staff members in ensuring that their home office environment is safe and healthy.

Whether at home or at the office, a workplace needs to be a happy and healthy place that encourages productivity while protecting employees from mental burnout and mitigating health risks. Mitigating factors include regular breaks, appropriate lighting, ergonomic workplace set-up, etc.

How would you sum up your experience of working at CNTP?

The three core values of CNTP are Progression, Partnership, and Preservation. These three words truly sum up the experience of working in the company. We are constantly progressing and doing new things which makes working here very exciting!

We have created partnerships with our farmers, and clients. Besides the partnership with outside parties, within the company, we are treated as partners - we have got a family-like culture among staff where everyone is important and plays an important role.

The company’s commitment to the preservation of the rooibos industry and the environment that produces rooibos tea is a great example to others in the industry.

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