Colombo International Tea Convention promotes ExclusiviTea of Ceylon Tea

Friday, 16 March 2012 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

As one of the top producers and exporters of tea, Sri Lanka proudly hosted the Colombo International Tea Convention which was the first international tea convention to be held in the island during peace time.

Attended by over 600 delegates, including 175 international delegates the event got under way at the Cinnamon Grand hotel from 1 to 3 February 2012 with Minister of Plantation Industries Mahinda Samarasinghe as the Chief Guest.

To show his support to this very important sector in the Sri Lankan economy, President Mahinda Rajapaksa hosted delegates of the Convention to afternoon tea on the first day of events.

Minister Samarasinghe delivering the keynote address at the Convention assured delegates that the Government’s commitment to the tea industry is strong and would be strengthened in the future to support the sector. He also stressed that to ensure the sustainability of tea, we should not compromise on quality. Many compromise on quality because of competition, they want to get a piece of the action since some markets are driven by prices and this is not sustainable, he said. “We need to understand the special liking of the consumer and give them a proper cup of tea.”

A marketing and promotion strategy is already on the way, he said and a campaign would be selected according to and to suit the different tea importing countries from Sri Lanka. “Funds have been set aside for this already,” the Minister said. “While talking about what is good about Sri Lankan tea we must also say why it is good to drink tea in general.” Black and Green tea have the same properties and this has to be marketed in the correct manner, he said.

“The country is deeply indebted to the tea sector of the country, the tax contribution by the tea sector has been able to help the country during troubled times,” Indrajit Coomaraswamy, Former Director, Economic Affairs Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat said, as he kicked off the sessions on day two of the convention.

Speaking on Sri Lanka’s medium term prospects, opportunities and challenges, Coomaraswamy noted that the island nation should plug into the region of Asia and said that the country should focus more attention on India and China. However, Coomaraswamy says there are many factors that would affect Sri Lanka’s strategic choices like the high level of liquidity in the global market. Given that growth in emerging economies is going to be higher than in advanced economies, there is a real opportunity for countries like Sri Lanka to move in the direction of obtaining a hub status.

Newly-appointed Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Tea Board Janaki Kuruppu called for “more involvement of women at the top end of the sector.” She said that women are some of the biggest contributors to the island’s GDP through the garments, tea and housemaid sectors. She also called for the improvement of the tea trade through innovative thinking. “If they don’t drink tea, get them to bathe in it or apply it on their face,” she said.

At the conclusion of the event Chairman of the Convention Committee Micheal de Zoysa said: “The Colombo International Tea Convention highlighted the ExclusiviTea of Ceylon Tea from bush through to plucking, production, auction, transportation, value addition and on to the final consumer.”

In this journey, he said the partnerships with Rain Forest Alliance, Fair Trade and Ethical Tea were highlighted, showing Ceylon Tea as second to none. In other presentations, logistics, finance, consumer needs the latest marketing methodologies were brought forth.

“Delegates from over 26 countries both producers and consumers left Sri Lanka well fed, well entertained and well informed having attended the best Tea Convention ever,” De Zoysa said.