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Webinar on International Tea Day

Kolkata: The Indian Tea Association reached out to lovers of tea worldwide virtually by organising a webinar to celebrate International Tea ...

Kolkata: The Indian Tea Association reached out to lovers of tea worldwide virtually by organising a webinar to celebrate International Tea Day, an annual event on the United Nations calendar which was observed on May 21 this year. 

The webinar was organised by the leading association of tea producers in two parts - “Sustainability – Way Forward for Inclusive Development” and “Indian Tea - A Leading global beverage”, It included panel discussions featuring experts on the subjects of sustainability and tea marketing from the government, UNICEF, various organizations covering US, UK, Russia, Malaysia, Egypt and of course India, the host country. 

The Indian tea industry’s persistent emphasis on sustainability across the value chain from the bush to cup was elaborately deliberated in the first session of the webinar which had a wide-ranging discussions and Q&A sessions on an array of sustainability issues encompassing economic, social and environmental challenges being faced by the sector. The deliberations covered stagnant prices, adversities posed by climate change such as flood erosion and water logging and their redressal measures also figured in the panel discussions which saw participation by Nayantara Palchoudhuri, Vice-Chairperson ITA , Dr J.B Ekka, Principal Secretary, Labour & Welfare Dept,  Govt of Assam, Will Battle, Managing Director Fine Tea Merchants Ltd, UK, Shathadru Chattopadhayay, MD, Solidaridad Asia, Bijoy Gopal Chakraborty, President, Confederation of Indian Small Tea Growers Associations (CISTA), Dr. Madhulika Jonathan - Chief of UNICEF Assam and North East India, Dr. Barbel Weiligmann - Senior Advisor for Workforce Nutrition (GAIN), Rathin Chatterjee, Consulting Chartered Engineer RNC Consultancy Services and Kirtiman Awasthi - Senior Policy Advisor, Climate Change GIZ India.

Nayantara Palchoudhuri gave a presentation on the sustainability challenges confronting the tea sector. The presentation laid down the ITA Vision for ensuring a sustainable future for the tea.

“The industry’s commitment to ethically produced teas that are aligned to the “UN Sustainable Developmental Goal is unwavering.  Sustainability challenges however have to be addressed collectively by all stakeholders to keep the industry viable” she said during the meeting.

It is notable that in its war against the Covid 19 menace, the members of ITA in both Assam and WB have spontaneously responded with seamless adoption of new normals and adherence to safety protocols even before the pandemic had hit India in March 2020 and since then the industry has sustained its drive relentlessly sparing no efforts at ensuring safety of its workforce, their families as well during all stages of production from plucking to packaging and thereafter all along the value chain to the point of sale. The adherence levels in tea gardens have since been lauded by the State Governments and other reputed agencies.

The second session commenced with a presentation on export prospects by ITA chairman, Vivek Goenka. The industry is focused on harnessing its export potential in markets where the prospects of Indian teas appear significantly bright.

India makes 1400 million kg of tea in North & South India. It is the largest black tea producer and second largest overall tea producer in the world. India’s tea exports is around 250 mkg and total consumption is around 1100 mkg which is steadily increasing @2.32% every year.  

“It’s significant that despite the impediments induced by the pandemic and global fall in exports, the Indian Tea Association has been continuing to reach out to newer markets and sustaining the prospects of boosting exports in alignment with the national policy of more exports and thus bridging the trade gap” said Goenka.

The panelists in the second session comprised Peter F. Goggi - President Tea Association of the USA, Ramaz Chanturiya - Director, Rustea Coffee Association Russia, Liew Choon Kong - President, Tea Trade Association of Malaysia, Yahya Beyad - Chairman Britannia Tea Company Limited UK and Mahmoud Heiza - Tea Consultant Egypt.

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