With an increase in the inflow and availability of tea from Nepal, the prices of Darjeeling tea have fallen by 20-25 percent within a span of one year.
Tea plantations in Darjeeling might have to be shut down as ‘substandard’ tea from Nepal continues to flood Indian markets which will likely affect thousands of people associated with the tea industry directly or indirectly.
As per the experts, tea leaves imported under the free trade agreement from Nepal are being sold in the Indian markets in the name of Darjeeling tea which raises concern for tea growers in Darjeeling.
People in the tea industry allege that under the free trade agreement, anyone in India can import tea independently from Nepal. The price of Darjeeling tea on average varies from ₹320 to ₹360 per kilogram in the wholesale market, however, Nepal’s tea leaves cost less than half this rate.
To this, an official of a tea company said that it is not possible for the consumer to understand if he was drinking Nepali tea or Darjeeling tea as both tea leaves taste the same and even have a similar aroma.
The tea board has urged the Union commerce ministry to prepare standards for the import of Nepali tea. While the Tea Association of India, in the meanwhile, has appealed to the Union commerce ministry to take concrete initiatives to solve the matter by raising the issue regarding the sale of Darjeeling tea.
Moreover, the tea growers of Darjeeling have sent a letter to the tea board and to the state’s Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee requesting measures to restrain the problem. And reports say that Mamata Banerjee has already taken stock of the situation and has sought a detailed report from the state’s chief secretary on the matter.