Global tea prices concerns economist

September 19th, 2008 - 6:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Sep 19 (IANS) International tea prices are pegged a notch above sustainable levels, a top economist of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said here Friday. “The current global price of tea is $2.15 per kilogram, which is above the sustainable price of $2 per kilogram,” Kaison Chang, a senior economist with the FAO, told reporters on the sidelines of the launch of the Organic Tea Development Project in India.

If the sustainable price increases rapidly, the tea producers will start expanding gardens, which in future will affect the quality of tea produced and the price will also be affected, he maintained.

“We want to keep the sustainable price at $2 per kilogram to maintain supply of tea in such a way that it does not affect the quality and price in the long-run,” he said.

The Organic Tea Development Project aims at developing technology, skills and systems of organic tea production. It would include the development of appropriate technology for the establishment of new and conversion of existing tea growing areas to organic tea farms.

This project is being jointly conducted by the Tea Board of India, the FAO-Inter-Governmental Group, the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) and the International Foundation of Organic Agriculture Movements.

The estimated cost of the project is $4.05 million, out of which CFC will fund $1.6 million - 40 percent of the cost - and the remaining 60 percent will be borne by the Tea Board and other tea gardens.

“The estimated duration of the project is three years,” Tea Board of India chairman Basudeb Banerjee said.

India is the major producer of organic tea - 10 million kilograms - the bulk of which is exported.

“The main purpose of this project is to increase production, certification and enhance marketing strategy of organic tea in India,” Banerjee added.

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