FAO in Madagascar, Comoros, Mauritius and Seychelles

FAO partners with the Government of Mauritius for relaunching tea industry and building on opportunities arising from local and global market

(c) FAO

A consultative workshop is organized by the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security on the development of a strategic plan for the Tea sector based on the Forward-looking Business Model for the Mauritian Tea Industry proposed by FAO


July 22, 2021 – Mauritius/Port-Louis – Recently, the Government of Mauritius decided to capitalize on the unique island and terroir characteristics, as well as the growing demand for, Mauritian tea. The Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security (MAIFS) requested FAO, through the Secretariat of Intergovernmental Group on Tea (IGG-Tea), Markets and Trade Division, to support the development of an inclusive business model for a thriving and sustainable tea sector in Mauritius. Based on the proposed business model, Mauritian Government will reignite this engine of Growth


Mauritius: a rich history of tea plantation

Mauritius has a rich history of tea plantation, which dates to the eighteenth century. A French priest, Father Galloys, introduced tea, Camellia sinensis in Mauritius in 1760. In 1817, Robert Farquhar, Governor of Mauritius, encouraged commercial tea cultivation. In 1955, the Government launched the Tea Smallholding Scheme and the Project Planters Scheme and thousands of small holders benefitted from a plot of land under tea cultivation, which contributed, to the expansion of the tea sector. The Tea Control Board was established in 1960 to regulate and control the activities of the expanding Tea Industry. The Tea Development Authority was set up in 1971 to develop commercial tea plantations for smallholders following which Mauritius became a significant player in the global tea market and the tea industry became one of the pillars of the Mauritian economy. The tea industry was a source of employment and livelihood for many Mauritians.


A consistent downward trend of the Mauritian tea sector since the mid-1980s

In 1987, the local tea industry was faced with serious difficulties due to low price of tea on the world market and increase in costs of production. The Government introduced guaranteed green leaf price scheme and provided financial assistance for the survival of the tea sector. In 1994, the Government could no longer sustain the industry and decided to diversify the public tea sector. During the diversification programme, some 2500 hectares under tea were converted to sugarcane and the tea industry entered a new phase with our production gearing to satisfy the local market. 

Following the drastic decrease in land under tea and an increase in demand for tea, the Ministry came up with a project in 2016 to revitalise and boost the tea sector. About 260 hectares of agricultural state land were earmarked for tea plantations and the Ministry is in process of rehabilitating abandoned state-owned land in Ex tea belt areas for tea production at Grande Chartreuse comprising 100 Arpents.

The Tea Industry has always been fragile, and Mauritius cannot compete with the major tea producing countries in the world such as China, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam as well as with the tea producing countries of the COMESA and SADC blocks. The main reason being the high cost of production, principally labour, fertiliser, fuel, and the fact that only teas of medium quality are produced because of the agro climatic conditions. 


The health benefits of Mauritian tea give it a unique advantage

Mauritian tea, with its deep-rooted history, heritage, tradition and special functional benefits has its own brand identity. The health benefits of Mauritian tea give it a unique advantage and can contribute to the development of a standalone national brand. The consumers mainly made up of the millennial’s generation X, and Y are placing more value on healthy lifestyles, safer and innovative products, convenience, and the social image of a product. A brand identity will ensure that Mauritian tea continues to be sought after as a trusted and high-quality product with functional benefits backed by strict regulations and standards. Moreover, it will encourage and facilitate the conservation of its valuable natural heritage. The brand identity will be the driving force for innovative and responsible ways to process and produce tea. It is recommended that MAIFS develop a consumer education programme regarding the health attributes of Mauritian tea; furthermore, the government could declare Mauritian tea as a “National Drink” that adds value to a healthy lifestyle.

The branding and promotion of Mauritian tea as a pesticide free product is high on the agenda of the Government of Mauritius. National Agricultural Product Regulatory Office (NAPRO) claims that tea produced in Mauritius is pesticide free, based on the argument that there is “no pest or disease of economic importance that attack the plant.”

Many new market requirements, including carbon footprint standards, have started to emerge. These new market requirements can offer opportunities to promote the Mauritian tea brand, once the tea sector adopts a carbon neutral production strategy. The carbon neutral tea can promote eco-tourism as well. Mauritian tea with its deep-rooted history, heritage and tradition and special functional benefits is uniquely positioned to support the development of a national brand for its tea.