Tea farmers, traders ink pact

Himalayan News Service

Ilam, July 5:

An agreement between Nepali tea farmers and Indian businessmen has been signed to promote tea market. The agreement focuses on the sustainability of tea market and the price of green tea exported to India from Shreeantu and Samalbung. Since green tea produced in the area is exported to Mirik, Saureni and Ghiyabari located in Darjeeling, Indian businessmen in these places exercise a monopoly on fixing tea prices and fixing the date of payment. “We are hopeful about the recently-concluded agreement,” Abhinand Giri, a local tea farmer said, adding that tea farmers are optimistic about getting rid of such difficulties.

Although the tea factory is located at a short distance from the tea estate, local tea farmers are compelled to export tea to India due to lack of good price.

Indian tea entrepreneurs offer better prices for tea than Nepali tea factory owners. Nepali tea farmers have been selling green tea to Indian businessmen for years, said local tea farmers. Indian businessmen visiting the tea estate offer five rupees more per kg compared to Nepali tea entrepreneurs, they added. But the problem is that they also don’t give payments on time, complained tea farmers. Being fed up with such problems, at the initiation of Aantu Samalbung Tea Farmers’ Association, an agreement was signed with Indian businessmen.

As mentioned in the agreement, there should be agreement on tea-weight, sustainability of market, fixation of price and timely payment. Of all the farmers who cultivate tea on 48, 493 ropanis of land, 81 per cent of them are ordinary farmers. During the peak season of green tea, 50, 000 kgs of green tea is produced in the eastern part of Maikhola, everyday. But the daily capacity of the tea factories available in the area is not more than 32, 000 kgs, informed Dilip Kumar Raut, manager at Ilam Tea Producers’ private Ltd. The excess production is exported to India.