Factory owners unhappy with tea price

Himalayan News Service

Jhapa, June 25:

Green tea factory owners have submitted a three-point memorandum to the CDO on Thursday expressing their dissatisfaction over the price sanctioned for procurement of tea.

CDO Tika Ram Aryal had decided on a joint meeting on Wednesday that the price of green tealeaves would be Rs 11 per kilogram, after request of from small tea farmers to keep the pricing of tealeaves transparent and in accordance with their investment. Small Tea Farmers’ Association had been organising protest rallies to press their demands. Purna Kumar Karki, chairman of the association, said that the price fixed by the CDO is appropriate and that they would cancel all their protest programmes if the price remains constant.

However, factory owners, who did not speak during the meeting, said that the price is impractical and submitted a three-point memo to the CDO. The points stated that firstly, the processing cost would cover only refining of tealeaves. Secondly, the price of tealeaves would be based on the price of ready-to-sell tealeaves and thirdly, provide the processing cost to farmers and the government buys out all tealeaves produced by providing adequate cost for the green tealeaves. Ishu Shankar Shrestha, chief of Tea and Coffee Development Board at Birtamod, said that the meeting was undecided about the appropriate price of green tealeaves produced by small tea farmers. He said that the investment cost of green tea varies each year, as the first crop requires more in comparison to old tea gardens. Similarly, he added that the cost of tea processing also depends on different factors. He also said that the total investment cost for farmers does not go above Rs 9 to 10 per kilogram.

A tea processing factory source claimed that the current price, sanctioned by the CDO, would send the processing factories into losses. The source also added that one kilogram of green tea is readied after processing 4.75-kg of green tealeaves. Apart from that, 250 gms of secondary tea and 100 gms each of BT raw fibre and dust are also produced. After selling all these, owners generate Rs 100, which sums up to Rs 20 to Rs 25 per kilogram, making up a loss for owners.