NATIONAL TEA DAY
Nepal exported tea worth Rs 1.24 billion in the first eight months of the current fiscal year, according to the Trade and Export Promotion Centre (TEPC).
The export is some 36.7 per cent more than exports in the same period of last fiscal year, when the country had exported tea worth Rs 911.19 million.
The country exported some 6.92 million kg of tea till mid-February, the TEPC data revealed, adding that in the same period last fiscal, the country had exported some 5.68 million kg of tea. "In the last fiscal year 2011-12, the country had exported some 9.19 million kg tea worth Rs 1.57 billion."
Trade Policy 2009 and Nepal Trade Integration Strategy (NTIS) 2010 have identified several agricultural products including tea as potential goods for export.
Farmers in 12 districts — Ilam, Panchthar, Terhathum, Jhapa, Dhankuta, Udayapur, Bhojpur, Sankhuwasabha, Lalitpur, Dolakha, Kaski and Nuwakot — are involved in commercial tea farming, whereas in recent years, with growing demand farmers have been inclined towards organic tea. Some tea farmers have also been recognised as organic tea producers by international institutions.
Tea — one of the key exports of the country — is estimated to account for around 0.5 per cent of the total world tea output, according to the National Tea and Coffee Development Board which said that India, Pakistan, Germany, France, Holland, Japan, Belgium and the US are the key importers of Nepali tea.
Climatic conditions are suitable for orthodox tea in the hilly region and Crush-Tear-Curl (CTC) in the Tarai. There are around 140 registered tea estates which contribute 85 per cent to the national production volume, it said. "The country has 40 tea processing factories in the private sector, which produce both orthodox and CTC tea."
The country has been observing National Tea Day since 1997 on Baisakh 15 every year, though lately the government has not been much involved in the celebration due to the private sector's domination in the sector.
Himalayan Tea Producers Co-operative (HIMCOOP) — the marketing wing of Himalayan Orthodox Tea Producers Association (HOTPA) — has been assisting the marketing of Nepali tea abroad as in 2006, HOTPA implemented the Code of Conduct to increase the standard of Nepali orthodox tea to the international level.
Had the government been able to implement National Tea Policy 2000, according to Vision 2020, total tea production by 2020 could be around 54.7 million kg, of which CTC 22.5 million kg and Orthodox 32.2 million kg, apart from the total area tea cultivation could be 62,800 hectares.