Dhankuta tea firms source green leaves from Ilam

Kul Prasad Rai

Dhankuta, June 1:

Three tea industries, now in operation in Dhankuta district, are importing green tea leaves from Ilam as domestic production has failed to meet demand.

All three are producing orthodox dust tea and have their own tea estate in Dhankuta’s Hile, Pakhribas and Bhir. Besides that, farmers producing tea leaves at the private level in the district are also supplying them.

Guranse Tea Estate, Narayani Tea Estate and Kuwapani Tea Plantation have a processing capacity of 120,000 kgs, 70,000 kgs and 40,000 kgs, respectively. However, their output has never gone beyond the half way mark as their production capacity of green leaves has kept failing them.

Kuwapani has began to produce tea from this year only. The Narayani Tea Estate has set a target to produce 30,000 kgs of orthodox tea this year.

All the three tea industries are located in the Dhankuta municipality ward no 1 Kuwapani. The tea industries in Dhankuta are reportedly importing over 50,000 kgs of green tea leaves from Ilam.

The Narayani Tea Estate alone is bringing 1,500 kg green tea leaves from Ilam’s Fikkal in a week, general manager of the Narayani Tea Estate, Andrew Gardener, said. The industry has even taken 68 ropanis of land in Fikkal on lease of Rs 200,000 for two years, he informed.

Tea industries in Dhankuta are purchasing green tea leaves for six rupees more on each kg than what tea industries in Ilam pay. Ilam tea industries pay Rs 18 per kg for green tea leaves, while Dhankuta tea industries are paying Rs 24 for per kg.

However, Narayani Tea Estate is purchasing at Rs 26 per kg for green tea leaves from Dhankuta tea farmers, claimed administrative assistant of that company, Rajesh Katuwal.

Meanwhile, Guranse Tea Estate has reportedly stopped buying green leaves from Ilam’s Fikkal. According to an employee of the industry, Rajeev Pakhrin, green tea leaves brought from Ilam often rots away. Besides, the supply of tea leaves is not stable.

Green tea leaves with one stem and two leaves (Ek Suiro Dui Paat) are good for producing quality tea, which is not followed while buying tea leaves from Ilam, Pakhrin said.

Insurgency has also hit the tea industries hard, harming the supply of green tea leaves from Ilam. Security checks, especially at Ilam’s Bherletar and Dhankuta’s Salleri are tough, industry insiders say.

According to agriculture development office Dhankuta, at present 250 hectares of land are covered with tea plantations. For this, the Agriculture Development Bank has invested nearly Rs 50 million.