FAO Calls for More Sustainable Tea Sector
"The tea sector contributes to socio-economic development, representing a major source of employment and income for millions of poor families, yet it faces a number of challenges," FAO Director-General Qi Dongyu said in a press release on Monday.
"Environmental sustainability involves the use of innovation and production methods that preserve resources for the future. Sustainability also needs to capture the social side of the sector, by empowering women and youth and ensuring that production throughout the value chain is respectful of social norms and standards," the Director-General added.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for tea saw a strong increase, spurred by purchases for in-home consumption. Market information collected by the FAO Intergovernmental Group on Tea (IGG/Tea) showed that tea consumption expanded in all markets, even those that recorded a declining trend in per capita consumption over recent years.
The data showed a surge in the demand for tea among young people. The surveys highlighted that young people rediscovered their love for tea during the lockdown due to the hydration benefits and the “feel good” factor.
FAO has underlined that the tea sector can play an important role in improving lives and restoring the livelihoods of millions who have been impacted by the successive shocks of the past two years. Global tea production amounts to over $17 billion annually, while world tea trade is estimated at about $9.5 billion, accounting for an important source of export earnings. Tea generates productive jobs and empowers individuals, especially women and their communities.
But in addition to sustainability, the sector also faces the challenge of market price levels and volatility. International tea prices, in real terms (adjusted for inflation), have been declining for the past four decades, as production increased faster than demand.
"Actions are also required to tackle some of the issues impacting smallholders, who account for 60 percent of global tea production," Qu said.
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