Asia Tea Alliance Unveils Five-Point Action Plan for a Sustainable and Prosperous Tea Industry

The Asia Tea Alliance has launched a five-point plan, focused on sustainability, collaboration, innovative science and technologies, and business support, in a response to the growing challenges within the Asian tea sector.

Members of the Asia Tea Alliance along with key stakeholder representatives from the tea industry in Indonesia

The members of the Asia Tea Alliance (ATA) gathered for its third annual meeting in Bandung, Indonesia, on 23 August 2023 and unveiled a comprehensive five-point action plan to foster economically efficient, environmentally sustainable tea production and trade, while enhancing working conditions at tea plantations. Solidaridad Asia, with a long history of work in the global tea sector, was happy to support the conference as the neutral convener of the ATA.

Currently, the industry is grappling with a number of challenges. The growing impact of climate change, price stagnation, high labour and input costs, oversupply, high transaction costs, and challenges in fair price discovery, have had an adverse impact on the tea sector on social, economic, and environmental fronts. The Asia-wide tea producers’ collaboration will focus on these five key areas: 

  • Sustainable Consumption: To increase global consumption of green and black teas, and promote them both as a healthy drink through joint events and education
  • Legal Alignment: Collaborating with governments to align the tea industry’s goals with public policy
  • Carbon Innovation: A coordinated approach to create innovative technologies to reduce carbon production in the tea sector, while ensuring fair pricing for carbon in-setting and off-setting
  • Scientific Collaboration: Fast-tracking genetic improvement in tea to combat climate change
  • Support to Members: To ensure quality, technical, financial, market, and other business support for tea-producing countries 

The ATA members also resolved to engage with the European Union (EU) as a dialogue partner to understand the implications of the EU’s Green Deal on the tea producers of Asia.

While consumer demand for ethical tea is growing, the economic sustainability for tea producers is often overlooked. Producers are burdened with environmental stewardship, increased productivity, traceability, and social responsibility — tasks requiring more labor, capital, and reporting.

Nayantara Palchoudhuri, Chairperson, Asia Tea Alliance

Established in 2019, the Asia Tea Alliance is a confederation of tea organizations from six leading tea-producing and consuming countries in Asia, including India, China, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Shatadru Chattopadhayay, Managing Director of Solidaridad Asia, highlighted the potential of generating additional revenue through carbon credits. “Carbon-positive supply chains are the new sustainability narrative… A fair price for the ecosystem service small tea growers provide could go a long way,” he said.

The ATA summit was organized as part of the 2023 Asia Small Tea Growers’ Conference with “Multi-stakeholder Cooperation for the Tea sector in Asia” as this year’s theme, and in collaboration with Business Watch Indonesia (BWI), Indonesia Tea Marketing Association (ITMA), Indonesia Tea Board (DTI) and Paguyuban Tani Lestari, apex organization of Lestari tea smallholders.

Raising a cuppa to sustainability (from left to right): Nanang Christianto, Program Manager, Business Watch Indonesia; Henry Heyneardhi, Partnership Director, Indonesia Tea Marketing Association; Shatadru Chattopadhayay, Managing Director, Solidaridad Asia; Drs Didi Sumedi, MBA, Director General for National Export Development of Ministry of Trade of the Republic of Indonesia; Yuyun Yuningsih, Paguyuban Tani Lestari (Indonesia smallholder association); Nayantara Palchoudhuri, Chairperson, Asia Tea Alliance; Dr Musdhalifah Machmud, MT, Deputy Minister for Food and Agribusiness, Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia; Dr Ir Rachmad Gunadi, MSi, Chairman, Indonesia Tea Board

The conference, attended by ATA members as well as stakeholder representatives of the tea sector in Indonesia, focused on empowering small tea growers and while creating an opportunity for cooperation involving various parties in the tea industry in Asia. At the conference, tea producers, processing companies, government, research institutes, non-governmental organizations, tea growers and consumers, all worked together to outline a vibrant and sustainable future for the tea industry.