Lanka tea mogul to share success story

Dilmah estate owner to deliver lecture at Tocklai

By Wasim Rahman
  • Published 31.07.15

Jorhat, July 30: The captains of the Assam tea industry will now get an opportunity to know about the success mantra of the globally renowned Sri Lankan tea brand, Dilmah.

During the past two decades, Dilmah has been able to grab a huge market share worldwide and has presence in about 100 countries.

Interestingly, the Indian tea industry, Assam in particular, has been getting a stiff competition from Sri Lankan tea, along with the teas of China and Kenya for the past 15 years.

Managing director of M.J.F. Holdings Ltd and a doyen of Sri Lankan tea industry, Merril J. Fernando, willdelivera lecture as the chief guest at the Assam Tea Planters Association's (ATPA) 78th annual general meeting to be held at Tocklai Tea Research Institute on August 8.

ATPA is a leading body of tea growers in the state and the first association of native Assamese and Indian tea planters.

ATPA chairman Raj Barooah told The Telegraph that the octogenarian Sri Lankan industrialist, whose Dilmah tea was one of the top brands in the global market, had agreed to share his experiences with the state tea industry.

He added that the idea behind inviting Fernando was to know about his success story.A noted tea planter, Barooah, said Sri Lanka was a tiny country if compared in terms of the geography and population of India, but of late, its tea, especially the Dilmah brand, had been able to expand worldwide.

Barooah added that Sri Lanka produced only about 320 million kg tea annually, of which it had been successful in exporting 95 per cent as there was no big domestic market because of less population.

"Our Assam tea as a brand is known worldwide and has a rich legacy dating back to over 150 years and expertise. But with the changing market scenario, where many other nations have emerged as leaders and were giving stiff competitions, we should try to know about the latest skills of all spheres of tea business," Barooah said.

He added that Fernando's journey with Dilmah was motivational. He said Fernando's company, too, had successfully tapped tea tourism business that was emerging in the state in recent years.

"We hope Feranando's interactions with the tea planters of Assam will be beneficial in taking the state tea industry forward which since the past 15 years was passing through a rough patch," Barooah said.

The ATPA chairman said the industry had been trying to cope with a highly competitive global market where the rules of the game were fast changing and a lot of new challenges were emerging.

Assam produces about 550 million kg tea annually, almost half the total production of Indian tea.

There were about 800 organised big and medium-sized registered tea gardens and about 70,000 small plantations owned by small tea growers.