Pashupatinagar : Tea growers and entrepreneurs from Ilam district have urged the Province-1 Chief Minister Sherdhan Rai for the promotion of the market and quality production for Nepali tea.
Tea entrepreneurs, farmers and cooperative managers from the district apprised Chief Minister Rai about the problems seen in the tea sector and the ways of addressing them in a meeting with him organized at local Fikkal, at the initiation of Suryodaya municipality.
Tea entrepreneur Udaya Chapagain complained that the Nepali tea exported to India was not getting the decent price there. He added that there was also problem in exporting Nepali tea to Europe as it has not been certified as organic.
Although there is high demand for Nepal-grown tea in the international market, there is problem in exporting it because it has not got the ‘organic’ certification, he said.
He called on the Province government to provide support and incentives to the tea farmers for an end to the use of pesticides in tea and promote production of organic tea.
Ten per cent of the tea grown in Ilam is exported to European market while 90 per cent is sold in Kolkata, India. Ilam is the main tea growing area in Nepal and a pioneer for tea cultivation.
It is said the tea traders of third countries are largely not known about the Nepali tea as it has not got the trade mark logo. So, the entrepreneurs have demanded that the province government should take initiatives for implementing the official trade mark.
President of Suryodaya Tea Association, Punam Rai, related about the problems encountered while exporting Nepali tea via India as well as in the Indian market itself. He said the Nepali tea exporters have to face many hassles at the hands of the Indian customs at the Kakarbhitta transit.
Rai said that it takes 15 days for the tea, exported from Nepal, to reach Kolkata, India which normally takes four days.
Association secretary Gopal Kattel demanded that the government should provide concessional loans to the farmers for expanding their tea estates to address the present problem of low production of the tea leaves in the context of increasing trend of establishment of new industries.
Saying although the internal consumption of CTC tea is 80 per cent, the consumption of orthodox tea is only 11 per cent, the entrepreneurs and traders urged for the government’s support in expanding the domestic market for tea and its publicity.
Tea entrepreneur Sonam Lama suggested the province government to take initiatives for the publicity of and expand the market for Nepali orthodox tea as they have to depend on the market in Kolkata for the 90 per cent of the orthodox tea given its low consumption within the country.
Tea industrialist and province assembly member, Kaji Man Kagate, urged the province government to provide assistance to improve the quality of tea grown in the country and to expand the area under tea cultivation.
Province-1 Chief Minister Rai expressed regrets that there was no trade mark for the tea grown in Nepal despite its 150 years’ history. He stressed that all the three levels of government should take initiation for addressing the problems faced by the tea industry.
He pointed out the need of setting up a tea research centre at the earliest to promote the tea industry and to address the problems in the sector. “It would be useless to talk about the prosperity of the country without resolving the farmers’ problems,” he said.
The Chief Minister said that the province government has started discussion regarding establishing a separate Tea Development Board and a comprehensive plan would be implemented soon for the promotion of agro-based industries.@katamandutoday