Lack of scientific pricing mechanism a major setback for tea industry: Report
Kathmandu, July 13
Inability of tea farmers to get reasonable price for their harvests has been identified as one of the major setbacks for the growth of the tea industry in Nepal.
A recent study conducted by Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) has stated that tea farmers across the country are deprived of a reasonable price for their produce due to lack of proper price fixation mechanism, resulting in sluggish growth of the tea industry in the country.
Currently, price of tea is fixed through consensus between farmers and factory owners where factory owners are reluctant to offer reasonable price to farmers.
Though Tea and Coffee Development Board, Nepal (TCDBN) tried fixing minimum price of tea in 2015, it could not be implemented after both farmers and factory owners remained at odds over the rate.
However, TCDBN officials said that though it is necessary to fix the minimum support price for tea every year, the Tea and Coffee Development Board Act, 1993 does not allow TCDBN to set base price for tea.
“We are authorised only to recommend the support price for tea, while government has been giving less priority to address problems being witnessed in the tea industry,” said a board official seeking anonymity.
The CBS report has also highlighted need to identify and explore potential markets for Nepali tea, subsidise tea farmers in green leaves, fertilisers and machinery, ensure availability of farming technologies at the local level and irrigation facilities and ensure availability of loans to tea farmers at a reasonable interest rate.
The study shows commercial tea farming is being carried out on 12,065 hectares of land across the country in 14 districts. Ilam, Jhapa, Panchthar, Dhankuta and Tehrathum are the top five districts in terms of commercial tea production.
There are 9,236 tea gardens in country that produce over 2.2 million tonnes of tea every year. Tea industry provides direct and indirect employment to more than 300,000 people.
The report shows 82 per cent of farmers have been cultivating tea on less than one hectare of land while only 0.8 per cent of farmers are cultivating tea on more than 20 hectares of land.