Guwahati: Six tea-producing countries of the world including India under the aegis of Asia Tea Alliance have agreed to join hands for strengthening mutually beneficial ties by way of sharing information, trade promotion for boosting tea consumption, enhancing technology exchange and others.
Asia Tea Alliance Meet was jointly hosted by the Indian Tea Association (ITA) and Solidaridad Asia both for the first time in India from Nov 10-11 during the India International Small Tea Growers’ Conference in Calcutta.
The declaration was launched jointly on November 11 by representatives from India, China, Bangladesh Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
The signatories reiterated that sustainable development of the tea sector requires collaboration between all stakeholders, including governments, the private sector, and NGOs, at the national, regional and international levels.
The forum of Asia Tea Alliance comprising leading industry bodies from tea-producing countries viz. ITA, Tea Board of Sri Lanka, China Tea Marketing Association, Indonesian Tea Marketing Association and Central Tea Association of Japan was set up in 2019 and facilitated by Solidaridad Asia, with multiple objectives of strengthening mutually beneficial ties by way of sharing of information, trade promotion for boosting tea consumption, enhancing technology exchange etc.
Given the pandemic, the agenda of the Asia Tea Alliance could not progress in 2020 and 2021, but now with the gradual return to normalcy, the meet was organised to focus on forging a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) among the members of the alliance to achieve the objectives.
The producers of tea across the world have faced multiple challenges for decades. The increasing impact of climate change, price stagnation, high labour and other input costs, the mismatch between demand and supply leading to oversupply, high transaction costs and fair price discovery challenges are adversely affecting the tea sector socially, economically, and environmentally. It further makes it difficult to achieve several sustainable development goals (SDGs) in the global tea sector.
While consumer demand for ethical tea is growing, ethical prices and economic sustainability for tea producers are rarely addressed. Instead, tea producers become responsible for achieving indicators around environmental stewardship, increased productivity, traceability, and social responsibility — measures requiring more labour, capital, and reporting.
The first point in the manifesto was on promoting national sustainability standards which were to strengthen and promote economically viable production and trade of sustainable black and green tea adhering to national sustainability standards, national laws and relevant UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
It also talked of protecting the interest of all tea producers and will undertake joint research and make policy recommendations to safeguard the economic and business interests of the small- and big tea-producing organisations and create a level-playing field for the producers.
The manifesto laid stress on tackling climate change and the aim was to generate resources for improving education, awareness, and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning in the tea-producing countries.
It also talked about initiating a fair carbon farming programme to actively support the carbon farming programmes in the tea sector and promote a practical and economically feasible carbon verification system that ensures fair payment for ecosystem services provided by the tea producers.
The manifesto advocated for a fair share of value producers in the tea supply chain that can benefit all actors and help enhance the tea industry’s social and environmental practices while bringing in efficiency and quality.
Importance was given to transparency and traceability to provide technical and operational support to members to make the tea supply chain more transparent through digital solutions, platforms, and other sharing solutions for an inclusive Farm Data Ecosystem based on”open-source” technology and easily accessible to all members who want to participate
The countries agreed on supporting the increase in consumption of sustainable green and black tea by organising joint events and enhancing consumer awareness.
They also agreed on developing and publishing an Asia Tea Alliance digest every two years, compiling statistics, research work and other information from the member countries pertaining to sustainable tea production and consumption.
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