GI for Darjeeling Tea

New Delhi : The government is planning to make Darjeeling Tea an exclusive product of India. The tea variety will soon have a geographical indication (GI) in all international markets. In the absence of GI identification, the name is being used by any manufacturer or retailer from around the world, for any variety of tea. This leads to major revenue losses for Indian tea exporters.

At present, Champagne is the only products that commands a GI worldwide. The issue of GI for Darjeeling Tea has been doing the rounds for the last couple of years through various national and international forums. It was raised in a recent meeting of the commerce and industry ministry’s consultative committee by Congress MP Rajeev Shukla.

“The commerce minister has assured that the necessary formalities for GI registration is under process and should be complete soon,” Mr Shukla told ET. While the government has filed for GI in the US and Canada, it has also spruced up the process in other international markets.

India is the second largest producer of tea in the world and Darjeeling Tea is considered to be the most sought-after variety. Despite this, India commands less than 13% share in the export market. “To a great extent, this could be attributed to the fact that India is also the largest consumer of tea in the world. However, losses due to lack of GI for Darjeeling Tea cannot be ruled out,” Mr Shukla said.

The Center is also planning to set up a body which will monitor and regulate tea exporters. Import of tea from India has been banned in some East Asian countries, mainly on quality issues.

Till about the early 1990’s, India happened to be one of the leading tea exporters in the world. This share has continuously dipped since then, due to various reasons. However, in the last 6-7 years, there have been an aggressive takeover of tea gardens by corporates, and almost 80% tea production lies with the organized sector now.

Overall, the organized sector comprises around 1,600 tea estates with a holding size of over 10 hectares.

Source: The Economic Times