Tea talk

  • Technical skills of tea farmers and producers must be enhanced to boost exports

Mar 13, 2018-

The Nepali orthodox tea industry now has a brand new logo to promote its product in the overseas market. The logo, which has been approved by the government, is yet to come into use, but once it starts appearing on Nepali tea packets, it will help the Himalayan product to create its own identity in the international market. This is expected to help Nepal boost exports of orthodox tea, which is gaining popularity across the world, as it is said to contain antioxidants and less caffeine.

However, there is a catch. First of all, the logo will be used only in tea packets that have met international manufacturing standards. But it appears very few tea producers in Nepal will meet this standard, as many farmers have failed to use available technology or lack the expertise to embrace modern farming and production techniques.

A number of government agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and international NGOs have tried to equip tea farmers with modern equipment and provided training to tea producers to enhance their skills. But these efforts have failed to yield desired outcomes. So, many tea farmers and producers are still relying on traditional farming and production techniques. This has affected work related to soil-testing, and tea processing, grading and packaging, and prevented farmers and producers from achieving economies of scale.

Nepali tea has a lot of potential because it is grown on virgin lands, where farming was never conducted. Also, climatic conditions in the foothills of the Himalayas are perfect for tea plants. What’s more, Nepali tea bushes are younger and thus give better harvests. These are the reasons why tea connoisseurs and purveyors around the world have started heaping praise on Nepali orthodox tea particularly because of its quality, aroma, taste and aftertaste.

What is also unique about Nepali tea is that it is grown by small farmers, many of whom own less than a hectare of land. This is unlike in Darjeeling, where income generated from sales of tea is pocketed by rich tea-estate owners. So, the story behind Nepali orthodox tea is not only about plucking tea leaves, processing and packaging them, and selling the final product for a profit, but sharing prosperity as well.

If Nepal could sell this story abroad, it could attract more buyers.

Nepal is currently exporting tea worth mere Rs2.5 billion per year. Nepali tea industry could generate much more revenue in the coming days if the technical skills of farmers are enhanced and modern technology is used in all stages of tea production. This could make tea a major foreign currency earner for Nepal.

Published: 13-03-2018 07:54

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