Tea producers today warned the government that they will be forced to stop operations due to rising production cost and irregular supply of power that have made quality tea production difficult.
“If the government does not address the rising production costs and power shortages, we will be forced to stop the operations,” said tea producers at a programme here today.
The Nepali tea will not be able to compete with the Indian and other countries’ tea due to rising cost of production, they said, adding that they were unable to compete in the market as other countries have been providing subsidy to their farmers.
The tea producers also expressed their dissatisfaction for not addressing their demands in the budget for the current fiscal year 2013-14. “We have submitted an eight-point demand to boost the sector but the government did not address it,” they complained, asking the government to provide a four per cent subsidy on Nepali tea that would help Nepali tea competitive in the international market.
The cash incentives programme is also cumbersome, they said, asking the government to simplify it as tea is a 100 per cent value added export product.
The government should help us get fertilizer easily, they demanded, asking for grants in purchasing fertilizers.
Likewise, they also asked separate feeder for the tea producers to maintain the quality of tea and minimise the operation cost that has been surging due to regular power outage.
“Regular disruption in power supply has affected the quality,” said Chhatra Giri of the Tea Producers’ Association.
Since there is a huge demand of organic tea in the international market, the country has not been able to exploit the market. “Only four out of the 25 orthodox tea producing farms have received organic certification,” according to the Himalayan Orthodox Tea Producers’ Association (HOTPA) that is helping the small holder tea producers to maintain quality tea production.
Similarly, lack of internationally accredited tea testing lab has also hurt the organic tea export,” said HOTPA president Udaya Chapagain, on the occasion.
Nepal produced some four million kg of orthodox tea last year and 90 per cent of the production was exported to India, according to the data of HOTPA that also informed that the country has a capacity of producing 100 million kg of tea annually, it currently produces some 20 million kg of tea from 51 processing plants. “Of the total production, some 60 per cent is exported — some 58 per cent to India and only two per cent to other countries.”
Committed to support the tea producers as they help fuel exports, the government has also formed a committee to study the tea producers’ demands.
“A tea testing lab is under construction in the eastern Nepal, where there are more tea estates,” informed agriculture secretary Jay Mukunda Khanal, on the occasion.
However, the tea producers criticised National Tea and Coffee Development Board for its failure in registering the collective trademark of Nepali tea that is expected to help export Nepali tea under one brand assuring the quality.The government has also allocated the budget for the trademark registration.