Centre’s shield for Darjeeling Tea market
The Centre has come up with certain directives to discourage the practice of imported Nepal tea being sold as Darjeeling Tea and engaged a number of agencies to check the trend.
Ashwini Kumar Choubey, the Union minister of state for consumer affairs, food, and public distribution, said in the Rajya Sabha on Friday that the Tea Board of India had already issued instructions to all tea importers and buyers to ensure that the origin of the imported item was mentioned on all invoices.
“They have been asked not to describe any imported tea as the tea of Indian origin. The distributors and blenders have been directed to carry out appropriate labelling where the origin of imported tea should be mentioned,” said the minister.
Darjeeling Tea has Geographical Indication (GI) tag, which means the beverage produced in the hills is protected as a unique produce. In the past couple of years, stakeholders of the Darjeeling Tea sector highlighted that a section of traders was importing Nepal tea and selling the same as Darjeeling Tea in the domestic and international markets.
They have demanded the imposition of import duty on tea brought from Nepal while underscoring that such practice is ruining the prospects of Darjeeling Tea in different countries.
“Even in India, a considerable portion of Nepal tea is being sold as Darjeeling Tea. This is unethical and we believe the central government should look into the issue,” said M.P. Bansal, a planter and the chairman of the Terai Indian Planters’ Association.
Choubey said in the Upper House on Friday that any person importing tea for domestic sale had to inform the Tea Board about the place of storage of such items within 24 hours of their entry into India.
“We want to ensure the integrity of the supply chain of Darjeeling Tea and necessary steps have been taken,” the minister added.
In 2021, the total production of Darjeeling Tea was 6.7 million kilos. “However, another 11.47 million kilos were imported from Nepal and sold as Darjeeling Tea in the domestic market,” a tea planter had said.
Shanta Chhetri, who is a Rajya Sabha member of the Trinamul hills and hails from the hills, said she had drawn the Centre’s attention to the issues plaguing the Darjeeling Tea sector.
“This malpractice should be stopped as it is affecting our tea industry. We hope the central government and its agencies will make efforts to ensure that there is no violation of the regulations which the minister has mentioned,” said Chhetri.