The first ever Caucasian Tea Producers Congress took place in Baku during 11-13 July, 2008. It brought together all main tea sector actors from the former Soviet Union. As a result, and by a unanimous decision, The Caucasian Tea Producers’ Association was established that includes Azerbaijani, Georgian, Russian as well as Abkhaz and South Ossetian tea producers and business people.
The presidents of the Georgian and Azerbaijani Tea Producers’ Associations, experts & ‘patriarchs’ of tea industry participated together with representatives of the Azerbaijani and Georgian Ministries of Economic Development, Ministry of Agriculture, Cabinet of Ministers of Azerbaijan, and members of Parliament. They were joined by some key private sector actors including Vice-President of AzerSun Holding, AzPromo, Russian Maiskii Chai, Grant Holding, RoschaiKofe and others. Over 45 people participated in the event. To get a flavour, among the participants were Ustim Shteiman (President of Roschaikofe, Hero of the SU and former Minister of the Soviet Tea Industry), Ramaz Pantsava (Honorary President of the Georgian Tea Association and former Minister of the Georgian Tea Industry), Lilia Meleshina (a leading tea-taster from the FSU) and Georgi Basaria (Abkhazia’s foremost tea grower and specialist) – all leading figures in the sector and some of the most respected figures in their field.
A unanimous decision was made during the Congress to establish Caucasian Tea Producers’ Association to function as an advocacy platform for tea sector cooperation and development in the region. The Association is open to the representatives of tea sectors, producers and buyers across the region and beyond. CBDN in cooperation with International Alert will play a facilitating role setting up the structure but after that it is envisaged to take the work forward independently
The event received wide and positive media coverage incl. the national TV channels, MIR TV, BBC Azeri Service etc. And it was the first time that the main names & actors from the sector got together on such a level and in such format since the early -90s.