France to provide 1 million euros for Geographical Indication (GI) certification of Ceylon Tea

The French Development Agency (AFD) signed a grant agreement worth 1 million euros with the Sri Lanka Tea Board (SLTB) and French Agricultural Research Centre for Development (CIRAD) towards the development of a Geographical Indication (GI) for Ceylon Tea. The agreement was signed by AFD Country Director and SLTB Chairman in the presence of Hon. Minister of Plantation, H.E. Ambassador of France, Hon. State Minister of Company Estate Reforms Tea and Rubber Estate Related Crops and Hon. State Minister of Estate Housing & Community Infrastructure. The creation of a GI for Ceylon tea will aim at promoting quality products, protecting traditional know-how it is based upon, enhancing its commercial value and recognition in international markets.

Sri Lanka's tea sector dates back more than 150 years and is the second highest net foreign exchange earner of the country. Ceylon Tea’, identified by the Lion Logo exhibits unique qualities with a range of flavours and aroma. The geographical aspects and conditions of each of the seven tea-producing regions have significant influences on the characteristics of teas they produce. Despite its uniqueness, ‘Ceylon Tea’ does not have protection to uphold and to authenticate the quality reputation of the product. Counterfeit Ceylon tea is sold in various consumer countries.

A Geographical Indication (GI) certification serves to uphold and authenticate the quality, reputation and characteristics of a product by linking them to a specific territory through intellectual property protection, while also giving it added value in national and international markets.

This grant will, over a four-year period, provide technical assistance to establish GI and the relevant certification systems for ‘Ceylon Tea’. It will enable the CIRAD, which has proven experience in the implementation of geographical indications, and the UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization), which has been working for several years on the establishment of a GI for Ceylon cinnamon, to support SLTB and numerous actors from the tea industry. Through this process, the ‘Ceylon Tea’ value chain is expected to become more productive, inclusive, and sustainable. Ceylon tea will have enhanced value-addition in international markets through intellectual property protections and national and international certifications.

“AFD in Sri Lanka is committed to support integrated, sustainable and resilient agricultural value chains. The tea industry is a large contributor to income generation in rural area and a positive driver of economic growth. We are pleased to accompany the development of GI and certifications on Ceylon Tea that will be crucial to protect traditional agricultural and industrial know-how while promoting improved living conditions and better natural resource management along the value chain.” said Reda Souirgi, Country Director of AFD in Sri Lanka.

The Honourable Dr. Ramesh Pathirana, the Minister of Plantation has stated at his speech that this is a momentous occasion of Ceylon Tea of its 150 years history. Ceylon Tea industry is stagnant at the present manly due to the presence of poor expanding global market as well as the social and economic issues in the major importing countries such as Middle Eastern countries. Even the Ceylon Tea export revenue is range from 1.3 to 1.5 billion US dollars for past 5 years, he highlighted that it’s a sizeable income when compare with the country’s total export revenue of 12 billon US dollars. Accordingly it is required to create new avenues to build from where we are for which GI is very much of important. Once this GI is established this will create value and ensure sustainability, inclusiveness as well as the productivity of the Ceylon Tea. He further highlighted that he would be thankful to H.E. the Ambassador of France in Sri Lanka on behalf of the 2 million people who involved in the Sri Lanka’s tea industry directly and indirectly for making this opportunity for the sake of the betterment of the Ceylon Tea.

“I am very proud to witness the launch of a fruitful cooperation between, French agricultural research center for development (CIRAD) and Sri Lanka Tea Board (SLTB) on geographical indication supported by French Development Agency (AFD). France has been a pioneer in the establishment of Geographical Indications contributing to create added value to its quality products and preserve the reputation of French gastronomy over the world. I am confident that the solid experience of CIRAD in partnership with the UNIDO and the SLTB, will allow a broad endorsement of the Geographic Indication by all stakeholders, based on high-level product quality, together with sound environmental and social standards.” said H.E. Eric Lavertu, Ambassador of France in Sri Lanka.

Further, Mr. Jayampathy Mollogoda, the Chairman of Sri Lanka Tea Board stated “The registration for Ceylon Tea in Sri Lanka will not automatically create eligibility for a GI registration for “Ceylon Tea” name in overseas markets. Although, the reputation factor of Ceylon Tea could be well established, it is mandatory to prove the identification and verification of the origin of “Ceylon Tea” as against other origins through qualitative and quantitative research. Towards this end, the Sri Lanka Tea Board has sought assistance from AFD to finance the partnership, we wish to enter into and implement with CIRAD, as a technical partner in order to support Ceylon Tea value creation through the development of   geographical indication and International Quality certifications. Accordingly, French Development Agency (AFD), French government agency has agreed to provide financial assistance to Sri Lanka Tea Board through the CIRAD, as a technical partner. This agreement is to set out the terms and conditions governing the partnership between the SLTB, the agency (AFD) and the technical partner (CIRAD).”

About The French Development Agency

The French Development Agency (Agence Française de Développement – AFD) implements France’s policy on international development and solidarity. Through its financing of NGOs and the public sector, as well as its research and publications, AFD supports and accelerates transitions towards a fairer, more resilient world. It also provides training in sustainable development (at AFD Campus) and other awareness-raising activities in France.

With our partners, we are building shared solutions with and for the people of the Global South. Our teams are at work on more than 4,000 projects in the field, in the French Overseas Departments and Territories, in 115 countries and in regions in crisis. We strive to protect global public goods – promoting a stable climate, biodiversity and peace, as well as gender equality, education and healthcare. In this way, we contribute to the commitment of France and the French people to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Towards a world in common.

About French Agricultural Research Centre for Development (CIRAD)

CIRAD is the French agricultural research and cooperation organization working for the sustainable development of tropical and Mediterranean regions. CIRAD works with its partners to build knowledge and solutions and invent resilient farming systems for a more sustainable, inclusive world. It mobilizes science, innovation and training in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Its expertise supports the entire range of stakeholders, from producers to public policymakers, to foster biodiversity protection, agro ecological transitions, food system sustainability, health (of plants, animals and ecosystems), sustainable development of rural territories, and their resilience to climate change. CIRAD works in some fifty countries on every continent, thanks to the expertise of its 1650 staff members, including 1140 scientists, backed by a global network of some 200 partners.

About The Sri Lankan Tea Board

Ceylon tea has been the country’s one of principal and most famous exports; for generations, it formed the backbone of the Sri Lankan economy, and plays a major part, even today, in the country’s fortunes. The Tea Board is the apex regulatory and administrative body of the Sri Lankan tea industry. First set up in 1976, it comprises representatives from both private and government bodies involved in the industry,

As the regulatory body, Sri Lanka Tea Board is responsible for regulating the activities of tea industry, viz. production, increase of cultivation, replanting, rehabilitating old gardens, establishment of factories and monitoring their operations. The whole process has been monitored and evaluated from factory to the shipment to maintain the “Quality of Ceylon tea” and many actions have been initiated to intensifying the monitoring of quality standards of tea at the point of sale, pre-shipment, warehouses of brokers, blenders and exporters and providing advisory services on hygienic blending and storing.

SLTB conducts promotional activities throughout the years to the marketing and promotion of Ceylon tea in globally, collection and interpretation of tea statistics and delivering competency of the actual markets and ability to retain and expand Ceylon tea among leading markets. With the sole purpose of protecting the Ceylon Tea brand locally and internationally, the SLTB is keen on establishing the required control systems to protect “Ceylon Tea” as a geographical Indication. Furthermore, the sector is eager to register the GI protection system in important export markets with a view to prevent the infringement and passing-off teas originating outside of Sri Lanka being marked and marketed as “Ceylon Tea”.


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Press contact:

AFD – Morgane BEGON

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SLTB – Chathura Fernando

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