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International Tea Day

  • 22 May 2020
  • 4 min read

Why in News

Recently, the first International Tea Day was observed on 21st May after it was designated by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2019.

  • The UN General Assembly called on the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO is an agency of the United Nations) to lead the observance of the day.
  • May 21 was chosen because the season of tea production begins in May in most of the tea producing countries.

Key Points

  • Tea is a beverage made from the Camellia sinesis plant. It is the world’s most consumed drink, after water.
  • Origin: It is believed that tea originated in northeast India, north Myanmar and southwest China, but the exact place where the plant first grew is not known. There is evidence that tea was consumed in China 5,000 years ago.
  • Economy:
    • Tea production and processing constitutes a main source of livelihoods and subsistence for millions in developing and least developed countries.
    • It is a labour-intensive sector, providing jobs, especially in remote and economically disadvantaged areas.
    • Tea can play a significant role in rural development, poverty reduction and food security in developing countries, being one of the most important cash crops.
  • Sustainable Development: Tea production and processing contributes towards various sustainable development goals:
    • Reduction of extreme poverty (Goal 1).
    • Fight against hunger (Goal 2).
    • Empowerment of women (Goal 5).
    • Sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems (Goal 15).
  • Plantation condition:
    • Tea is a tropical and sub-tropical plant and grows well in moderately hot and humid climates.
    • The ideal temperature for its growth is 20°-30°C and temperatures above 35°C and below 10°C are harmful for the bush.
    • It requires 150-300 cm annual rainfall which should be well distributed throughout the year.
    • The most suitable soil for tea cultivation is slightly acidic soil (without calcium) with porous sub-soil which permits a free percolation of water.
  • Climate Change:
    • Changes in temperature and rainfall patterns, with more floods and droughts, are already affecting yields, tea product quality and prices, lowering incomes and threatening rural livelihoods.
    • In parallel, there is a growing recognition of the need to contribute to climate change mitigation, by reducing carbon emissions from tea production and processing.
  • FAO has designated 4 tea cultivation sites in China, Korea and Japan as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems.
    • Pu’er Traditional Tea Agrosystem (China)
    • Fuzhou Jasmine and Tea Culture System (China)
    • Traditional Tea-grass Integrated System (Japan)
    • Traditional Hadong Tea Agrosystem, Hwagae-myeon (Republic of Korea)

Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems

  • Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) was started by the FAO to safeguard and support the world's agricultural heritage systems.
  • GIAHS are outstanding landscapes of aesthetic beauty that combine agricultural biodiversity, resilient ecosystems and a valuable cultural heritage.
  • Three recognised GIAHS sites in India:
    • Kuttanad Below Sea Level Farming System of Kerala.
    • Koraput Traditional Agriculture of Odisha.
    • Pampore Saffron Heritage of Kashmir.
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