THE National Tea and Coffee Development Board of Nepal has projected a five per cent increase in Nepal’s tea production by the end of the fiscal year.
Output is expected to swell due to an expanded area under cultivation, growing interest of small farmers in growing tea and government subsidies.
According to the NTCDB, the area where tea is grown rose by 698 hectares to 18,149 hectares in 2011-12. Tea expert at the board Pallavi Singh said many small farmers from Dolakha and a number of districts in western Nepal had been attracted to grow tea. Ilam, Jhapa, Panchthar, Dhankuta and Terhathum are the major tea producing districts. Jhapa accounts for half of the area under tea cultivation. The NTCDB said the tea producing area in Jhapa increased by 310 hectares last year. Out of current annual production of 18.30 million kg, 15.95 million kg is produced in the district.
Singh said that increasing attraction for tea production through cooperatives was the main reason behind the growing involvement of small farmers in the sector. The government has been providing subsidies of up to 50 per cent to buy necessary equipment. “Similarly, the direct cash subsidies provided to tea producing cooperatives have attracted many local farmers to grow tea,” she added.
As of last year, 9,941 small farmers were involved in tea production against 9,523 in the previous year. Out of the total volume of tea produced, the Crush, Tear, Curl (CTC) tea amounted to 87 per cent and the rest was orthodox tea.
Growing demand from international markets has also attracted an increasing number of farmers to take up tea farming. The Trade and Export Promotion Centre’s data for the first nine months of the fiscal year showed that tea exports jumped 36.5 per cent to 1.35 billion Nepalese rupees (US$15.20 million) during the period. According to the centre, 80-90 per cent of the orthodox tea and 60-70 per cent of the CTC tea grown here is shipped abroad.
Germany, India, Korea and Japan, among others, are the main buyers of Nepali tea. According to the NTCDB, demand from the US and many Gulf countries has surged recently. Singh said that participation by tea exporters in the international trade fair held in Las Vegas, US last year had also helped to increase sales there. According to her, Nepal Economic, Agriculture and Trade, a USAID-funded project, had helped in this regard.
Meanwhile, rising exports have also helped to attract more farmers to produce organic tea. According to Singh, the government has been providing subsidies to farmers who want to go into organic tea farming. “As a result, a number of big tea producing companies have acquired organic certification in a bid to boost exports.” “Due to lack of a local pricing mechanism, traders have to depend on the Indian market to set prices for their products,” she added. —Asia News Network/The Kathmandu Post