FAO calls for greater sustainability of tea sector


FAO reflects on the need to balance growth and sustainability at all stages of the tea value chain

Global demand for tea has seen a remarkable increase during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing a new momentum to build a sustainable and resilient tea sector while preserving its unique character of bringing people together. This was a key takeaway from a FAO-hosted virtual high-level event to mark the International Tea Day 2021, celebrated on 21 May.

“Celebrating tea is celebrating peace, culture and hope,” said FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) Director-General QU Dongyu in his opening remarks. “Tea can play an important role in our journey to build back better. Being the most widely consumed drink in the world after water, tea brings people together to share stories and ways of life.”

Despite the key role tea plays in ensuring rural incomes, livelihoods and food security, the sector faces a number of challenges, the Director-General warned.

He reminded the audience that tea can only be produced in narrowly defined agro-ecological conditions, and therefore, the impact of climate change and extreme weather events is one of the most pressing issues that requires urgent attention. Other major stressors for the tea sector include increasing competitiveness in the beverage sector and declining returns for small-scale farmers.  

The Director-General reflected on the need to balance growth and sustainability at all stages of the tea value chain. To achieve this, he called for greater sustainability, through strategies for climate change adaptation and mitigation, enhanced market transparency and sustainability. He also spoke about the importance of policies for sustainable production that target smallholder growers.

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