Tea is one of the world's most important crop. It is
consumed as a beverage throughout the world and grown widely in countries
of Asia, Africa and the Near East. It has widespread implications for the
earnings and food security of farm communities, particularly small-holders
in these countries.
Historically, it has competed effectively in an increasing
crowded beverages market, but indications are that it has lost ground,
particularly in the early to mid-nineties.
World tea production in the last decade has grown at an yearly
rate of 1.81% until 1999 and consumption has kept pace at a slightly growth rate
of 2.05% per year. However, the global consumption has consistently been
significantly less than production.
World tea production has been dominated by India where output
peaked at over 870,000 tons in 1998. The second largest producer is China with
its highest output also recorded in 1998 when its production reached 665,000
tons. Kenya follows at a distant third at 294,000 tons and Sri Lanka at 280,100.
Indonesia, Argentina and Bangladesh follow as fifth, sixth and seventh,