Most people living in the northern provinces of Iran work in tea fields. Iranian green tea is exported mainly to Germany, the UAE, Canada, Russia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. Tea is essentially the farmers’ life as there are no other industry in this part of Iran that can provide them with a reliable income and job security. Sadly, this is not the case anymore.

As reported by the Iranian Association of Tea Farmers, farmers have stopped the third harvest of tea this year due to poverty and drought.

The increasingly harsh climate is damaging the tea crops. Compared to 2012, the volume of harvest in the first two harvests was still acceptable, but substantially lower this year.

Farm owners cannot even afford to pay his employers due to missing payments. 46,000 tonnes of green tea leaf were collected during the first and second harvest, they were purchased by tea factories and retailers, but farm owners have yet to receive any money but for the 2% down-payment.

Lack of government support has also made the lives of tea farmers of Iran a bit more difficult. India exports 12 million kilograms of team to Iran each year and the Iranian government has just assured India that it will include Indian tea in the top category of imported items, hoping to import more each year.

In short, a lower yield of harvest in the fields, missing payments and the entry of foreign competitors in the tea industry, when combined with the uprising problem of tea smuggling in the country, the future of Iranian farmers are just far from hopeful.

And here is a collection of photos of Iranian tea farmers in Iran, by our own photographer Mehrad Lajevardi.