To co-operate for sustainable development of the tea sector, China Tea Marketing Association and the United Planters’ Association of Southern India signed a memorandum of understanding recently. In implementing the project, Solidaridad Network, which is a global civil society organisation, will provide technical support.
Nico Roozen, executive director of Solidaridad Network, spoke about the need for promoting sustainable practices in agriculture. Solidaridad works with different sectors in India like textiles, sugar, and aquaculture.
According to Mr. Roozen, the three major challenges which are the agriculture sector in India faces like size of the landholdings is small and, without scale, consistent quality is not possible to be part of high value markets; the extension support and quality of inputs available to the small farmers are not adequate; and with climate change impact, farmers need to use more inputs such as fertilisers and this leads to higher cost of production and low returns.
Indian farmers need to increase production of food and dairy products, cotton, etc. with a growing mid-income population. To invest in sustainable and profitable farming, food businesses and traders are increasingly aligned with NGOs. Consumers ask details of how the products are sourced, so awareness among them is on the rise.
Unsustainable ways threaten food security and businesses. There is a need to produce more with less and ensure that it is done in a way that sustains people and environment.
Tea production has to be financially sustainable for social and environmental improvements, said Mr. Roozen on the tea sector. According to FAO data, the tea prices in real terms have gone down continuously from 1957. India and China are the biggest tea producing and consuming countries.
He say, Indian small holders are not earning a remunerative return and this co-operation will help small holders learn and acquire latest technologies to produce and sell higher quality tea in a sustainable way.