The Telegraph
Monday , June 2 , 2014
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Darjeeling brand awareness call

Calcutta, June 1: Darjeeling planters want the Tea Board to prepare a promotional campaign to create awareness on the geograpical indication (GI) of the brew in the European Union.

The awareness plan is part of a list of demands to the central government to ensure sustainable growth of Darjeeling tea. The industry has sought infrastructure upgradation, advancement in manufacturing technology and export incentives.

A geographical indication is a sign used on goods that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities of their place of origin.

“Building awareness around GI and its promotion has not been done as was needed. We need customer awareness programmes in the EU. Exporters are also not being able to earn enough. The government should give incentives to tea exporters,” said S. S. Bagaria, chairman of the Darjeeling Tea Association.

The EU had registered Darjeeling Tea as a protected geographic indication (PGI) product in October 2011. The status implies that the brew produced only in Darjeeling can be sold as Darjeeling Tea in the EU countries.

However, blenders whose products had been in the market five years before October 14, 2009, were allowed to sell the incorrect blend as Darjeeling for the next five years, by which time the stocks would have to be exhausted.

Industry sources indicate that a two-year-old plan to appoint an agency to monitor Darjeeling packs in the European markets, especially in Germany, is yet to receive approval.

The then Tea Board chairman had met the officials of the European Tea Committee, especially members of the German tea trade, to take stock of the implementation of PGI for Darjeeling tea across Europe. Discussions had circled around IPR protection and the transition to full-fledged GI and its awareness.

Plans have also been on the anvil to hold promotional activities prior to the end of a five-year transition period granted to blenders in the EU, after which adherence to the GI norms becomes mandatory.

“The onus is on the European Tea Committee. They had asked for time. There was a consensus built on that so that they can exhaust stock,” said Arun N. Singh, chairman of the Indian Tea Association.