EBRD supports Azerbaijan’s tea industry
BAKU, Azerbaijan, May 24
By Fidan Babayeva - Trend:
With the right support, including public and private investment and the transfer of know-how, Georgian and Azerbaijani tea industries could see a revival, tea expert John Snell said, Trend reports referring to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
“In recent years, both countries – boasting ideal tea growing conditions and natural tea stock – have taken steps to revitalize their tea sectors,” tea expert said. “Those were among the findings shared by the FAO Investment Centre during today’s online event celebrating International Tea Day.”
“The tea bush survives for a century or more, and with care can be brought back into production, which is happening in both Georgia and Azerbaijan,” Snell added.
The tea expert added that “new tea plantations have been established in both countries and some incredible leaf teas have been produced, taking us back to the age of Lao Jin Jao, whose Georgian tea won the gold medal at the Paris Expo in 1900.”
FAO partnered with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on tea sector studies for Georgia and Azerbaijan to inform potential investors of opportunities and risks.
The studies give a comprehensive sector overview, including consumption, production, and trade trends. They also identify potentially profitable opportunities in tea growing and making, and examine sector policies and environmental sustainability, taking into consideration climate change.
“The seed-grown tea stock in both countries is robust and able to produce quality tea,” Snell added. “The six-month dormancy delivers the right stress and strength in the tea bush, enabling the production of exceptional first and second flushes akin to India’s famous Darjeeling area.”
“The tea stock’s long dormancy combined with the countries’ low humidity also help prevent pests, allowing tea growers to produce organic teas more easily and worry less about pesticide residues,” tea expert said.
“Azerbaijan is a nation of tea drinkers, with tea consumption rising by 50 percent since 2008,” Snell said. “Educating the public on what is special about quality Azerbaijani teas could help satisfy the huge domestic demand.”
FAO Investment Centre Director, Mohamed Manssouri explained that the studies aim to promote responsible agricultural investment for sustainable and inclusive growth.
“Raising tea quality while also reducing production costs could make Georgian and Azerbaijani teas more competitive at home and abroad. And it could create interesting opportunities for small-scale tea growers and enterprises to access new, more lucrative markets,” Manssouri said.
Natalya Zhukova, Director, Head of Agribusiness from the EBRD noted the advantage both countries have in their proximity to large and discerning tea markets, like the European Union and former Soviet Union countries.
“The international tea market continues to evolve, with trends showing a thirst for different quality tea products, like oolong or white tea leaf,” Zhukova added. “By improving quality and efficiency along the entire supply chain and diversifying, Georgia and Azerbaijan have a lot to offer the tea world and we stand ready to support industry growth.”
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