Planters’ Association upbeat on newly formed International Tea Producer’s Forum

Thursday, 24 January 2013 00:52 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Planters’ Association of Ceylon in a press statement congratulated Minister of Plantation Industries Mahinda Samarasinghe for his initiative and effort in pursuing the formation of the first ever International Tea Producer’s Forum (ITPF).

With an intergovernmental membership of seven of the world’s largest tea producing countries including India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda and Sri Lanka, and China as an observer, ITPF will serve as a powerful new channel to tackle the challenges facing the global tea sector, through international cooperation. The Secretariat will initially be based in Sri Lanka at the Sri Lanka Tea Board premises.

Chairman of the Planters’ Association of Ceylon, which represents the interests of 23 regional plantation companies, Lalith Obeyesekere, said this was a landmark occasion. Sri Lanka particularly looks to the forum to provide long term sustainability to the tea industry in maintaining price stability and quality standards, among the other objectives set out in the mandate.

Obeyesekere went on to add, “ITPF will enrich tea producing nations to promote sustainable expansion by engaging market-based principles. We look forward to practical contribution to the world tea economy for the betterment of all producers.” He thanked Minister Samarasinghe for being the prime mover in setting up the ITPF.  In addition to promoting the collective interests of tea producer countries, the forum will deliberate on common problems affecting producers, provide technical co-operation and share technology and expertise, promote the popularising and positioning of tea as the most preferred beverage to increase consumption and to undertake market studies, research, surveys to assess consumer preference and disseminate such information to the benefit of all member countries.

Samarasinghe, commenting on the new forum, said that the absence of a specific global body to deliberate on matters significantly important to the global tea industry resulted in substantial setbacks in the sector. Although realised by many and with efforts made as far back as 1993, it wasn’t until this week and with Sri Lanka being the current chair of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)/ Inter Governmental Group (IGG) that the formation of the ITPF became a reality.

In Sri Lanka, over two million people derive their livelihood from the commodity with the country currently producing 8% of the global tea production and contributing 17% to global tea exports.

The Planters’ Association said they were confident that Sri Lanka could use the ITPF to re-look at the industry in order that local tea producers realise their full potential.