Markets and Trade

International Tea Day 2023: Supporting smallholder tea producers is an integral part in the transformation of agrifood systems

- 19/05/2023

Rome - The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) today kicked off a global celebration for International Tea Day 2023 at its Rome headquarters, ahead of the official day which annually falls on 21 May as designated by the United Nations.

“In the last three years, the world has faced significant challenges, due to conflicts and economic downturns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, in overlap with extreme weather events due to the climate crisis.” FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said in his opening remarks. “The tea industry can become an engine for economic growth and for restoration of the ecosystems. It can contribute to our fight against poverty and hunger, and represents a major source of income and employment, especially for rural communities,” he added.

The focus of this year’s celebration is smallholder tea producers and Qu underlined their importance for the sustainability of the sector. “We want to celebrate their achievements, but also raise awareness about the significant challenges they face, and the urgent need to mobilize political will to support them,” he said, adding that “we must all work together and leverage all possible means, including increased and more targeted public and private investments, to transform the tea sector.”

Tea is the world’s most consumed drink, after water, and can bring health benefits and wellness to consumers. Over the past decades, the global tea industry has seen rapid growth, with a remarkable rising number of consumers globally. Especially, tea consumption by the youth segment of the market has expanded.

Additionally, the tea sector contributes to socio-economic development, representing a major source of employment and income for millions of poor families worldwide.

Global tea production amounts to over $18 billion annually. Around 13 million people are involved in global tea production. It is estimated that in the four major producing countries (China, India, Kenya and Sri Lanka), around 9 million tea farmers are smallholders.