Tea leaf prices almost halve this autumn

- BIPLAV BHATTARAI, Ilam
Tea leaf prices almost halve this autumn

Nov 1, 2014-

Fresh tea leaf prices have decreased almost 50 percent year-on-year this autumn. Farmers, who received Rs 35-40 per kg last year, are paid just Rs 18-20 this year.

Usually, the prices almost double during this time of the year compared to monsoon season as the autumn leaves are considered to be of good quality. But it’s the other way around this year.

“The prices have remained on the lower side since the beginning of the year, and the farmers had expected the prices to rise in autumn,” said Dambar Katuwal, a tea farmer from Kanyam.

“But this has not happened, and the farmers are now in trouble,” he added.

The low rates hit the farmers hard especially during the festivals of Dashain and Tihar. “The farmers even struggled procure necessary goods during the festivals.”

Most of the tea factories on the eastern side of the Mai river have not raised rates. Tea mill operators say the prices remained low due to unfavorable climatic condition and negligence of farmers that affected tea quality. Besides, the extensive use of pesticides made the product less popular in the international market, they said.

“Discouraged by low prices, farmers are not plucking tea leaves on time,” said Shiva Ghimire of Shree Antu.

Although the production and prices have tumbled, labour wages have increased. “We need to pay Rs 200 per person on a daily basis, while Rs 9 per kg has to be paid for after a certain amount of plucking is done,” said Katuwal, adding the farmers were finding it hard to even recover their costs.

Some factories on the western side of the river, however, have hiked the prices. Himalaya Shangrila of Sankhejung is offering Rs 45 per kg to organic tea and Rs 35 to non-organic variant.

The factories, however, complain exports have declined. “Exports to countries like Germany and Russia, among others, have decreased,” RC Nepal, manager of the industry said. The factory, which exported 25,000 kg last year, exported 15,000 kg this year.

Published: 02-11-2014 09:40

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