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Destination Europe to shield Darjeeling

Calcutta, Sept. 16: A tea delegation will visit Hamburg later this month and meet members of the European Trade Council to assess the extent of implementation of the protected geographical indication (PGI) status to Darjeeling tea.

The delegation will be led by Tea Board chairman M.G.V.K. Bhanu and include members of the Darjeeling Tea Association (DTA). It will reach Hamburg on September 21. The delegation is also likely to discuss joint initiatives to promote the brew in the region.

Darjeeling was granted the geographical indication status by the European Union in October last year, authenticating the origin of the tea. However, the implementation of this status involves a phasing-out period within which those products which do not conform to the law and are not an authentic brew from the hill-district of Bengal will be driven out of the market.

“We will discuss the implementation of the PGI at the meeting in Hamburg and how to promote Darjeeling tea in the region, a market which is about 3 million kg. The delegation will comprise 8-10 members,” said DTA chairman S.S. Bagaria.

The DTA had filed an application seeking the geographical indication status on behalf of the Tea Board in 2007. In 2009, the demand for Darjeeling tea was first recognised, though the status was given three years later. However, 2009 is considered the benchmark and the packs and brands that came into the market five years before this will be phased out.

“The ECR 510/2006 is the EU law for registration of a product for geographical indication. PGI implementation is, however, part of the state law of the EU members. Darjeeling tea is registered under the Commission Implementation Regulation number 1050/2011. This has become a law,” said Kaushik Basu, secretary of the DTA.

The Tea Board — the guardian of one of India’s most famous geographic appellations — has acted against several companies to protect the trademark of the brew. There have been at least 28 cases where companies have used the Darjeeling name to sell products ranging from men’s cologne to lingerie. Last year, the Supreme Administrative Court in Taiwan trashed an appeal by Delta Lingerie and barred it from naming its negligees after the Himalayan district.

Europe is the largest importer of Darjeeling tea and Germany is the hub of Darjeeling tea trade. The country imports and re-exports the brew to Europe, continental Europe, Japan and the US.

Darjeeling, which has 87 tea estates, produced around 9 million kg last year. Of this, more than 50 per cent were exported.

 
 
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