Exports of India's organic tea up

Wednesday, 21 July 2004, 07:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: Organic tea production in India has almost doubled from 1.68 million kg in 1998 to 3.5 million kg in 2003, with about 75 percent of it being exported.

Organic tea is currently exported to Germany, Britain, France, the US and Japan, N.K. Das, chairman of the Tea Board, told Commerce Minister Kamal Nath during a presentation on the crisis in the tea sector.

With certification having been introduced, organic tea is fetching a better price than normal tea, the minister was told.

This welcome development has come at a time when plantation crops, mainly tea and coffee, have been affected by a fall in prices during the past four years due to oversupply.

"Lower price realisation has in turn affected the viability of tea gardens," Das said.

One of the world's largest producers, India's tea sector has been going through a crisis with both domestic and export demand dipping.

The increasing switch to organic tea production is helping to revive export demand. As part of the promotion, Darjeeling organic tea is being targeted as a premium niche market speciality export product, Das said.

Expressing concern at the declining share of Indian tea in world markets over the last decade, Kamal Nath said this negative trend must be reversed.

He stressed the need to find a viable solution to revive the tea sector in consultation with industry as it provides direct and indirect employment to more than 10 million people, half of them women.

Last year, India set up a special fund with contributions from plantation owners to help out farmers during times when prices dip sharply in domestic markets.

Source: IANS
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