International tea market of Nepal declines by 40 percent

women picking tea leaves at a tea garden in Pashupatinagar of eastern Ilam. Photo courtesy: Rastriya Samachar Samiti

Kathmandu: In the previous years, with the onset of the first flush of tea, traders from the western countries were found teasing the tea plantations in the eastern hilly districts. Especially tea buyers from Germany, USA and other countries used to go to the orchards and factories to demand tea.
This time, no tea buyers could come to the orchard due to the panic spread around the world due to Covid-19. Which has a direct impact on tea exported to the West.
Compared to the previous year, the international tea market has declined by 40 percent this year. Entrepreneurs say that even in the countries where Nepali tea is exported, there is a problem in export due to corona, and inability to deliver Nepali tea by air. While the Tea and Coffee Development Board and the Himalayan Orthodox Tea Producers’ Association (HODPA) have been preparing logos to promote Nepali tea in the world market, Corona’s influence has caused problems in the tea market.
According to tea exporters Corona epidemic has hit the producers of special tea the hardest while exports to western countries, including domestic ones, are improving. In the first few weeks of the lockdown, when the factory was closed, green tea could not be picked. Even though the factory was operated after that, it could not run at full capacity for a long time due to lack of fuel and staff. Although Nepali tea was not exported to the Indian market at the beginning, it has become easier lately.
It is estimated that about 500,000 kg of tea will go to European and American countries out of the six million kgs of tea produced annually in Panchthar, Dhankuta, Tehrathum and other districts including Ilam. But this year, only 40 percent less exports. Last year, 18,000 kg of ready-made tea was sent to Europe, but this year entreprenuers are hardly sending only 10,000 kg.
The government has already approved the logo titled ‘Nepal Tea Quality of Himalayas’. Stakeholders say that even though Nepal’s tea is of good quality, it has not been promoted in the western market due to lack of access and publicity. Farmers have complained that some factories exporting tea to the western market have paid up to Rs 92 per kg of green leaf but other factories have paid less and did not pay on time.