Kolkata, July 3 (IANS) With the tea industry facing challenges, key stakeholders are set to launch a new quality code certification to ensure sustainable tea production with compliance to quality norms for tea growers.
The new quality code 'Trustea', to be launched by the Tea Board July 11, is also expected to change the dynamics of the domestic tea market as it would ensure inclusion of small farmers in the mainstream business.
"Trustea code caters to the challenges that the industry is facing, starting from soil, water, land, leaf and factory. All these process actually needs to be standardized for sustainable tea production", Tea Board chairman MGVK Bhanu told a media conference here Wednesday.
The industry is facing challenges such as quality improvement, maintaining food safety standards and mitigation of adverse climate change effects.
Saying that international and domestic consumers were now increasingly demanding products produced sustainably without adversely impacting the environment, Bhanu said many leading tea houses of the country had already embraced the sustainability principle to produce and sell the brew conforming to the food safety standards.
The new quality standard for tea is a programme initiated by Solidaridad, The Sustainable Trade Initiative, Unilever and Black Forest Alliance under the aegis of the Tea Board.
The Tea Board chairman said the new quality code certification would not be mandatory for the country's tea producers.
He, however, said about 500 million kg of the crop would come under the new certification in the next five years.
The Trustea code has been developed through a project, named Indian Sustainable Tea Programme. The programme was launched eight months ago and would continue for five years for training people along with other measures in the entire value chain of tea production.
The Rs.18 crore pilot project is being carried out in six locations across India, including Assam and Darjeeling.
Asked whether the new sustainability code would soon be registered internationally, Bhanu said: "We will certainly take initiatives in this direction."