COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) -- The world's top tea-growing nations have formed the first-ever international forum of tea producers, aiming to make their product the most popular beverage globally and also to ensure price and production stability.
The International Tea Producers' Forum was established by the six major growers — India, Kenya, Indonesia, Malawi, Rwanda and Sri Lanka. Together, they produce more than 80 percent of the world's black tea.
The tea producers met Wednesday in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, which was selected as the forum's first secretariat.
"This was an initiative launched as far back as 1933," said Mahinda Samarasinghe, Sri Lanka's plantation minister, adding that the forum would benefit both producers and consumers around the world.
He said they hope to pursue together for the common interest of the forum's member nations.
"Definitely price stability is something very important for tea-producing countries. This will be one of the items on the table," said Samarasinghe. He added that other objectives such as maintaining quality standards would benefit the consumers.
Representatives of the six nations signed a joint communique and agreed to reconvene in Colombo in November to set up the executive committee and the general council, which will elect a chairperson and two vice chairpersons and shall hold annual sessions to take forward the initiatives which will be proposed by the group.
- Mahinda Samarasinghe