Darjeeling, Sept. 8: With the Nepal tea industry expanding both in terms of production and acreage, the Himalayan kingdom is now looking at creating its own brand that could be an alternative to Darjeeling Tea in the orthodox tea sector.
The Himalayan Orthodox Tea Producers’ Association (Hotpa), which comprises tea producers from hilly districts in the eastern region of the country, is focusing on a code of conduct to create a brand for Nepal orthodox tea.
“We have already been given a logo and our code of conduct focuses on four main areas — protection of people and nature, transparency in operation and quality control. Once we are able to convince the market on these issues, our consumers will not hesitate to come back to us,” said Chandra Bhushan Subba, adviser, Hotpa.
Till date, the Nepal tea industry does not have a distinct brand identity in the international orthodox market. So long, the market has been dominated by brew from Darjeeling and China.
“Hotpa represents about 18,000 farmers, whose production figures for orthodox tea stand at 3 million kg. The growth rate (for the past three years) is about 18 per cent in production and 11 per cent in area,” Subba told The Telegraph.
The Nepal Tea Board had created a logo a few years ago and with 15 factories, 48 gardens and three estates (these have both gardens and factories) from the eastern region agreeing on a code of conduct, the benefits are set to the trickle in.
A compliance committee, consisting of representatives from Nepal Tea Board, Hotpa and farmers, is also ready to grant certification for compliance of conduct to about five of the gardens.
The committee is also looking into areas like excessive use of fertilisers and pesticides and efforts are on to encourage farmers (there are many small growers in the hilly tracts of Nepal) to go in for organic cultivation.
Subba maintained that once a brand for orthodox Nepal tea is recognised in the world market, it can sell its product banking on its own USP. “True Darjeeling flavour has its own niche but we too can sell our own product. Orthodox tea from Nepal does not possess any lingering taste. Moreover, tea from Nepal, which is bushy in nature, has an appearance of its own,” said Subba.
Representatives of Nepal tea have already held meetings in the UK (one of their buyers) to promote their product and seek recognition for the mode of standardisation of the tea that they have developed.