Universitas Indonesia Conferences, The 8th International Symposium of Journal Antropologi Indonesia

Font Size: 
A Cup of Bitter-Sweet Relationship: Female Tea Pickers and the Tea Industry
Erna Herawati

Last modified: 2022-06-07


A Cup of Bitter-Sweet Relationship:

Female Tea Pickers and the Tea Industry


Erna Herawati
Dept of Anthropology, Faculty of Social and Political Science
Universitas Padjadjaran



Women have been the main labor in the global tea industry, as tea pickers. However, they have been the most vulnerable group in the global the global tea industry. Tea picking generate low wages, but it attracts females in the plantation area because it is easy to access. It does not require any skills but willingness to work hard.  As the least preferable job, however, it has helped many households in the plantation area to survive. Similar to other countries, female tea pickers in Indonesia, have been the backbone of their household. In West Java tea plantation, the number of female tea pickers is decreasing. Young females prefer to work in the manufacturer industry in the nearby town rather than tea picking.  Female tea pickers who are stay in the tea industry are mostly middle to old age. Responding to this labor shortage, the tea plantation industry decided to apply mechanization in tea harvesting. In the beginning, scissor picking was introduced to replace handpicking. Later on, machine picking introduced to speed up harvest time and volume. The tools shifting has led female tea pickers to mechanization era, and exposed them to a new job risk (work-machine related accident). They have no option but to adjust to the situation.  This study investigates the harvest mechanization in the tea industry in West Java and how it affects the life of female tea pickers. This study present stories of female tea pickers in West Java tea plantation, as the most vulnerable and marginalized group in the tea industry; how they view their bitter-sweet relationship with tea industry, as well as their aspiration about women empowerment.

Conference registration is required in order to view papers.