International Tea Day: FAO spotlights the role of women in the sector

FAO Director-General QU Dongyu visits the tea and coffee tasting event ©FAO/Alessia Pierdomenico
FAO Director-General QU Dongyu visits the tea and coffee tasting event ©FAO/Alessia Pierdomenico

Celebration also provides a space for coffee sector

FAO Director-General QU Dongyu visits the tea and coffee tasting event©FAO/Alessia Pierdomenico
FAO Director-General QU Dongyu visits the tea and coffee tasting event
©FAO/Alessia Pierdomenico

Rome – Women’s vital roles in the tea industry and how to overcome the challenges they face was the theme of today’ s celebration for the 2024 International Tea Day hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

“Women play a crucial role in the tea industry, substantially contributing to its sustainability, productivity and community development,” FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said in opening  remarks at the celebration. “Their contributions underpin the industry’s economic viability, social fabric, and sustainable development.”

A high level panel of Permanent Representatives to FAO from Argentina, Azerbaijan, Brazil, China, Colombia, Indonesia, Kenya, Russian Federation, and Sri Lanka also spoke about tea and coffee from their countries’ perspectives, in relation to women’s role, culture, economics and history.

The event highlighted women’s diverse contributions across the tea supply chain, a context which also sees them grappling with numerous constraints including low access to credit and appropriate technology, weak extension services, limited market access and volatile prices, among others.

Overcoming challenges

This year’s focus provides an opportunity to reaffirm partners’ commitment to supporting women in overcoming these challenges, which directly threaten their livelihoods, food security and continued participation in the tea sector. It highlights the urgent need to strengthen the prevailing business models, addressing the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainability.

During today’s ceremony, a special dedication was also made to honour women involved in the coffee sector, who share similar conditions, experiences and stories.

Following the high-level session that kicked off the celebration, the FAO Director-General held an interactive dialogue with women working in the tea and coffee industries.

Issues discussed included how to improve access to resources, the importance of training and education, strategies for facilitating market access, the need for greater gender diversity in leadership and representation in decision-making. The dialogue offered a platform to share testimonies from women who have overcome their diverse challenges, turning them into success stories. It also showcased best practices enabling women to contribute significantly to the growth of the tea and coffee sectors.

Coffee tasting too

This year’s celebration also featured a tea tasting event led by China, together with Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Kenya, Russia, and Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, a coffee tasting event led by Brazil along with Indonesia, explored a diverse selection of coffee beans. Members of the UN Women’s Guild lent their support to the events.

In addition, an exhibition was organized by FAO’s Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) programme, including a photo-video gallery focusing on five GIAHS tea sites: The Pu’er Traditional Tea Agrosystem in China, boasting the world’s largest area of tea forest plantations; the traditional tea-grass system in Shizuoka, Japan, employing a farming technique known as Chagusaba, that ensures biodiversity, sustainability and the production of high-quality tea; the Fuzhou Jasmine System in China, with over 2 000 years of tradition and innovation, providing vital income for local farmers; the Anxi Tieguanyin Tea Culture System in China, where the the Tieguanyin tea tree was first discovered and where the beloved Oolong tea originates; the Traditional Hadong Tea Agrosystem in the Republic of Korea, combining traditional techniques and processing methods with a history spanning 1 200 years.

FAO’s work on tea includes market monitoring and analysis and servicing the Intergovernmental Group on Tea (IGG/Tea), a subsidiary body of the FAO Committee on Commodity Problems (CCP), as well as supporting the activities of the various Working Groups of the IGG/Tea, which deal with crucial issues impacting the sector. More information about FAO’s work on tea is available here.



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