International Tea Day 2020 | Addressing climate change challenges through tea

Putting on the kettle for your afternoon tea? Sipping a cup of green tea to strengthen your immune system?

Have you ever thought that changes in the way your tea is produced could be beneficial to the changing climate?

A new FAO project in Kenya is about to do just that by developing the production of potentially carbon neutral tea. It's the first FAO project within framework of South-South and Triangular Cooperation to address both climate change mitigation and adaptation in a food value chain.

Greenhouse Gasses (GHG) are generated throughout the tea value chain, from cultivation to processing, storage, transportation, marketing, and consumption. Low carbon and even carbon neutral tea production is possible with mitigation measures in place to sequester CO2 from the atmosphere and reduce GHG emissions at each stage in the cycle.

Not surprisingly the most energy is used during tea processing in factories and the simple act of boiling water to make a cup of tea.

The project will use low and neutral carbon tea production methodologies developed in China by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), as well as new technologies to tackle climate change through energy efficiency, tried and tested in the Kenyan tea sector by the German Development Agency, GIZ.

Based on lessons learned from GIZ’s public-private partnership projects in the Kenyan tea sector, FAO is proposing practical and economical interventions that focus on maximizing energy and resource efficiency in tea factories through technology transfers, factory automation and improved mechanization, capacity development, and the implementation of effective monitoring and Green Procurement guidelines.

The project will also address the first stages of the tea value chain and the cultivation of tea bushes using low carbon practices including:

·      The reduction of fertilizers and pesticides.

·      Enhancing carbon sequestration through improved photosynthesis and soil organic carbon.

·      Improved agroforestry systems.

·      Soil conservation, drainage and irrigation systems, and anti-frost fans.

Several options for farmers will be explored to increase carbon sequestration and sinks, including specific measures to increase the volume of organic matter stored in the soil, for example through the application of biochar.

Please refer to FAO’s Energy website for updates on the outcomes of the project and join us on the 21 May to celebrate International Tea Day 2020.