India produces about 26 million g of organic tea and 80 per cent of this is exported to Germany, the UK and the US.
NUREMBERG (GERMANY), FEB. 19: The Tea Board has set up three model farms in India on 100 acres each to develop a standard package for cultivation of organic tea, according to Ms Roshni Sen, Deputy Chairperson of the Board.

“The farms are in Munnar (Kerala), Darjeeling (West Bengal) and Assam and they will develop a standard package through research and development,” she told Business Line at the Indian Tea Board pavilion at BioFach 2012.

The package is being developed with financial aid from the Food and Agriculture Organisation's Centre For Commodities Fund.

While the United Planters Association of Southern India-Tea Research Association is involved in the Munnar farm, the Darjeeling Tea Development Research Corporation is doing the spadework at Darjeeling. The Tea Research Association of India, Tocklai, is in charge of research in Assam gardens.

“We are following a two-pronged strategy in encouraging organic production of tea. One is to prepare a standard package for cultivation and the other is to rope in small farmers by imparting regular training,” she said.

This is seen as a significant move by India to strengthen its hold in the organic tea market with a production of 26 million kg. About 80 per cent of this is exported to Germany, the UK and the US.

Currently, organic tea is being cultivated on 22,000 hectares and India is one of the few countries that has a national programme for organic production apart from China.

There are eight certifying agencies in the organic tea sector and 50 producers have been certified by these bodies. “Other producers are in the process of getting certification,” Ms Sen said.

The development of organic tea and a standard package for its cultivation is also seen important in the background of reports of pesticide residues being found in Indian tea consignments.

The Tea Board has appointed an agency to undertake a market study on domestic demand in organic products.

“We have already done a study on demand for such products in the US,” she said.

On setting up an export inspection council in view of increasing complaints on quality grounds against Indian tea, Ms Sen said a monitoring system will be set up during the 12th Plan period.

To a question on a directorate for small tea growers, she said it will begin functioning from this year. “We have already started the recruitment process for the directorate,” she said.

(The trip for BioFach 2012 has been sponsored by Nuremberg Messe GmbH in collaboration with the APEDA).

Source: Business Line

Retail tea prices are set to increase by Rs 10 to 12 a kg from April due to fall in output and sharp jump in labour cost.

Labour cost in tea producing centres such as Darjeeling, Assam and Bengal has gone up substantially leading to rise in operational cost, said Mr Arun N Singh, Vice Chairman of Indian Tea Association and Managing Director of Goodricke Group in a statement on Thursday.


The recent wage revision of tea workers by 34 per cent in the gardens of West Bengal including Darjeeling Tea Gardens and the likely hike in salary revision in Assam may push up cost resulting in retail tea price hike, he said. Nearly 2.2 million people are directly employed in the Rs 10,000-crore tea trade in the country.

Assam is the largest tea producer in the country with 500 million kg a year, followed by Bengal having 240 million kg a year tea production capacity.

The country has produced 985 million kg of tea in 2011 as against 966 million kg produced in 2010. Exports are expected to touch 190 million kg against 193 million kg recorded in 2010.

The remaining 795 million kg will be available for the local market while the domestic demand is pegged at 860 million kg, there will be shortage and price increase in tea, said Mr Singh.

Mr Harendra Shah, President, Federation of Maharashtra Tea Traders Association and Chairman, Federation of All India Tea Traders Association said that the quality of tea produced by many tea estates has improved in last few years, but the packaging standards have not been up to the mark, resulting into deterioration of quality along with spillage and pilferage. ITA should recommend good and effective packaging of tea to all its members, he said.

Source: Business Line

Assam tea output crosses 500 m kg

After three years, production of Assam tea has once again crossed the 500-million kg mark. The State has recorded a total production of 508.74 million kg for the year 2011. The figures for last three years were: 480.28 million kg in 2010, 499.99 million kg in 2009 and 487.49 million kg in 2008.

This is for the third time production of Assam tea has crossed the 500-million kg mark over the past 11 years. Total tea production in the country for 2011 is 988.32 million kg, which is the highest over the past 11 years.

North Eastern Tea Association (NETA) Chairman Bidyananda Barkakoty told The Hindu that the credit for the increase in Assam tea production goes to small growers. Production from small growers accounted for about 30 per cent of total production in the State, he said.

The jump in production of Assam tea was despite decrease of two million kg in the Brahmaputra Valley and a drop of three million kg in the Barak Valley in December, 2011, as compared to the corresponding month of 2010. “The decrease in tea production in December was due to less rainfall than required in October. If we had sufficient rainfall in October than we would have got a good pluck in November-December and the final production figure for 2011 would have touched about 513 million kg in Assam and India's total production too would have touched 1,000 million kg,” he said.

The NETA Chairman said that due to drop in November-December production, three weekly sales at the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre (GTAC) had to be dropped in March. “We hope that this year we will have a good demand as there is no tea in the pipeline and there is no chance for carry forward.”

Mr. Barkakoty said the Tea Board statistics showed that Darjeeling recorded 9.7 million kg in 2011 as compared to 8.86 million kg in 2010, Dooars 143.23 million kg (144.56 million kg) and Terai 73.33 million kg (76.35 million kg) while total production in West Bengal 226.36 million kg in 2011 as against 229.78 million kg in 2010.

In 2011, Tamil Nadu recorded a total production of 167.22 million kg, Kerala 68.34 million kg and Karnataka 5.30 million kg.

The Brahmaputra Valley is the single largest tea growing area in the world. Out of the total area under tea in the Brahmaputra Valley, 31 per cent are owned by small growers. According to a survey by the Assam Government, there are 68,465 small tea gardens in 14 districts of the Brahmaputra Valley. Tea is grown in almost all the 27 districts of the State. There are 825 large tea gardens in the State. There are about 1.58 lakh small tea gardens (size below 10.12 hectares) in India, cultivating tea on around 1.62 lakh hectares and producing nearly 260 million kg annually at 440 bought leaf factories. which account for about 26 per cent of the total tea produced in India (according to Tea Board statistics), Mr. Barkakoty said.

Tea was declared as the ‘State Drink' of Assam by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on November 22 at the World Tea Science Congress held in upper Assam's Jorhat town on the occasion of 100 years celebration of Tocklai Experimental Station of the Tea Research Association.

Source: The Hindu

Darjeeling: The West Bengal Tea Development Corporation has decided to increase the daily wage of labourers in its three Darjeeling Tea gardens to Rs 90, the standard amount paid by the industry in the region.

The hike comes after the trade union of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha threatened that it would launch a fast and stop the dispatch of Darjeeling tea from the three tea gardens if the wage was not increased from Rs 67 to Rs 90.

The Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union today called off the agitation following the increase in the wages of workers in Rangmuk-Cedar, Pandam and Rangaroon tea gardens.

An official of Rangmuk-Cedar tea garden in Darjeeling said: “We received a verbal instruction from the WBTDC head office in Calcutta to disburse wages at Rs 90 a day from February onwards. We have been directed to make requisition (for salaries) at the new rate and we have already started work. The labourers will be paid the arrears as and when the state government provides us with additional funds.”

The “arrears” he was referring to was the amount accumulated since April 1, 2011, when the new wage deal came into effect in the Darjeeling tea industry. Before that, the workers were being paid Rs 67 a day.

Although the headquarters of the WBTDC could not be contacted, sources said a circular on the wage hike was expected to be issued soon.

When the Morcha union issued the agitation threat on Wednesday, industries minister Partha Chatterjee claimed that the workers in the three Darjeeling WBTDC tea gardens were being paid Rs 90 as in the entire industry.

Baban Subba, a central committee member of the union, said today: “The tea workers are very happy with the development (the decision to increase the wage hike). We have decided to call off our agitation.”

Source: The Telegraph

India Tea Production fails to reach 1 billion kg mark

Tea production increased 2.2 per cent in 2011 to a record but lower crop in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu prevented it from touching the magic one-billion-kg figure.

According to Tea Board data, production increased to 988.32 million kg (mkg) against 966.40 mkg the previous year. The previous record production was witnessed in 2007 when the production was 986.43 mkg.


Output in West Bengal dropped to 226.36 million kg against 229.78 mkg a year ago, particularly with Terai region being a drag. Production in Terai dropped to 73.33 mkg against 76.35 mkg. Similarly, Dooars produced 143.23 mkg tea (144.56 mkg).

The West Bengal crop was hit by heavy rain during monsoon last year.

Darjeeling tea production increased to 9.7 mkg against 8.8 mkg a year ago.

Production in Assam increased over 28 mkg to 508.74 mkg with the Assam valley contributing an additional 31.93 mkg at 460.66 mkg (428.73 mkg). There was a 3 mkg drop in production in the Cachar region (40.97 mkg vs 51.55 mkg).


In South India, production dropped by 2.4 mkg to 240.88 mkg (243.37 mkg) with the crop being over 3 mkg lower in Tamil Nadu. Kerala reported a better crop, while there was marginal fall in Karnataka.

Tamil Nadu's crop was hit initially by a dry spell in the early parts of 2011 and then by wet spells and frost in the latter part of the year.

The country had targeted a production of 1 billion kg by 2010 but poor crop management due to lower prices and weather combined to cause setback.

After touching a record 986.43 million kg in 2007, tea production dropped to 980.82 mkg in 2008 and further to 978 mkg in 2009 and 966.40 mkg in 2010.

Higher prices following lower crop in Kenya and Sri Lanka led to better prices in 2010. This, in turn, led to better crop management and higher production last year.

However, exports are estimated to have dropped by over 6 mkg in 2011 to 186.73 mkg (193.29 mkg) as Kenya and Sri Lanka made a strong comeback. Problems in exports to Iran and Iraq also contributed to the drop, last year.

Source: Business Line

Forest timber offer to tea gardens

The government has told the tea garden owners to regularise their supply of firewood to workers and in case of shortage, to buy the extra from auctions conducted by the forest department.

The move was prompted by observations that smugglers posing as garden workers were raiding forests for timber. Tea workers frequently scout for firewood in the forests, since the supply from gardens is irregular. The firewood is part of the fringe benefit that a worker gets from the garden.

Asked how much firewood a garden worker was entitled to, an industry source said it was not measured in kilograms.

“The quantity is measured in volume. Each worker is entitled to 5ftX5ftX2.5ft (length-height-breadth) of timber a year,” said an industry source adding that shade trees were cut to supply firewood.

The government’s concern was conveyed at a meeting of garden managements convened by the forest minister Hiten Burman at Writers’ last week.

“I had come to know that the garden managements had not been providing firewood to the workers regularly for the last three years. As a result, workers are entering the forest for timber. They are being followed by the timber smugglers,” said Barman.

At the meeting, the minister also said his department would compensate any garden worker whose property was damaged by wild animals.

Representatives of the Darjeeling Tea Association, Indian Tea Association and the General Tea Association of India were present at the meeting.

Many tea gardens in the Dooars and Terai are located on the forest fringes and on elephant corridors. Tea workers and their houses are often victims of elephant and leopard attacks. The garden land does not belong to the managements and are taken on lease. According to forest norms, compensation is not given to damage caused by animals to property on government land. Now, a worker’s family is compensated only if he is killed by an animal.

Many gardens claimed that they spend more than Rs 5 lakh every year to repair damaged houses of workers. Sometimes, vast swathes of plantation are destroyed by marauding elephants.

The minister said his department was trying to work out a way to compensate the gardens. “I have asked the forest officials in north Bengal to enquire how it can be done, more importantly to find out what changes have to be made in the rules. This process will take time,” Barman said.

He said the garden managements had been told to ask workers not to cultivate paddy on unused land adjacent to forests as it attracts elephants.

“Like the forest villages in Bankura, we will also form halla parties in the gardens so that they keep a lookout for elephants at night and alert the workers,” he said.

Source: The Telegraph

Darjeeling: The trade union of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has threatened to launch a fast and stop the dispatch of made tea from three state-owned estates in the Darjeeling hills if the workers are not paid the same wages as their counterparts in the industry.

The West Bengal Tea Development Corporation (WBTDC), a state government undertaking, runs Pandam, Rangaroon and Rangmuk-Cedar gardens in the hills.

The government had played a pro-active role in increasing the wage of garden workers from Rs 67 to Rs 90 in the Darjeeling tea industry with effect from April 1 last year.

“It is surprising that the WBTDC failed to increase the workers’ wages even a year after the government brokered deals between trade unions and garden owners on pay hike. We have been holding gate meetings for an hour from 8am in the three gardens since yesterday. The meetings will continue till February 11,” Babin Subba, a central committee member of the Darjeeling Terai-Dooars Plantation Labour Union, told The Telegraph.

Threatening to intensify the agitation, Subba said: “If we do not get a positive feedback from the government, the workers will start a hunger strike and stop the dispatch of made tea from the three gardens.”

The unions had entered into the wage deals with the Darjeeling Tea Association (DTA) and the Indian Tea Association separately (ITA). Most of the tea gardens in the hills are affiliated to either of the associations. Although the government plantations are not members of the DTA or the ITA, they generally follow the agreements inked by the two associations.

While Rangmuk-Cedar, located 35km from Darjeeling and in Kurseong subdivision, has 1,931 workers on its pay roll, Rangaroon and Pandam employ 219 and 268 labourers respectively. Both Rangaroon and Pandam are in the Darjeeling subdivision.

Industries minister Partha Chatterjee expressed surprise at the Morcha’s plan to stop the dispatch of tea from the WBTDC gardens. “Who said we are not giving them the revised wages? We are giving them the revised wages. I have conveyed this to Kurseong MLA Rohit Sharma. This kind of threat is not acceptable,” he said at Writers’ Buildings.

However, deputy manager (administration) N. Basu and company secretary S. Samandhar of the WBTDC admitted that the revised wages were not being paid. But they refused to say anything further on the issue.

Source: The Telegraph

Darjeeling Tea scheduled for e-auction sale

Darjeeling tea would soon be offered for electronic auction after some software glitches were sorted out, the Calcutta Tea Traders Association said on Wednesday. "e-auction of Darjeeling tea has not been yet introduced because the product cannot be standardised. Each variety of Darjeeling tea is unique," chairperson of the Tea Traders Association, Sangita Kichlu, said at a news conference here.

Kichlu said there were also some glitches in the software which NSE.IT (information technology arm of NSE) was being looked into.

"We hope that e-auction in Darjeeling tea would be introduced in the next financial year," she said.CTC and orthodox variety were being sold through the e-auction route. At present 55 per cent of total tea produce of around 1,000 million kilograms were being routed through the e-auction route.
CTTA, an association of buyers, brokers and sellers, was celebrating its 125th year of existence.

Kichlu said Russia was now emerging a strong orthodox market and would partly compensate the loss the Iranian market due to the payments crisis.

Source: Business Standard

Darjeeling tea has become the first product from India to be protected as a geographical indication (GI) in the European Union (EU), according to the Tea Board. With this, the Darjeeling tea confirms its position among the world's best known teas and the qualities of Darjeeling tea are now legally recognised and protected in India and in the EU, says the Board.


It means the name “Darjeeling” can only be used to denote tea grown in Darjeeling and which is processed in the typical Darjeeling style of manufacture in the factories situated within the specified gardens within the defined tea-growing area; and for which all steps of production, with the exception of packaging, (harvesting, drying and processing) has taken place in the defined area.

The registered name “Darjeeling” is protected in all the member States of the EU against:

(a) Any direct or indirect commercial use of the name Darjeeling in respect of tea or products comparable to tea or in so far as it exploits the reputation of the name Darjeeling;

(b) Any misuse, imitation or evocation even if the true origin of the product is indicated or accompanied by an expression such as ‘style', ‘type', ‘method', ‘as produced in', ‘imitation';

(c) Any other false or misleading indication;

(d) Any other practice liable to mislead the consumer as to the true origin of the product.


The registration of Darjeeling represents a major victory for all producers, plantation workers, worldwide connoisseurs and consumers of Darjeeling tea and marks the successful culmination of a long arduous journey spanning four years.

Filed in November 2007, the application for Darjeeling tea as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) under European law underwent normal lengthy administrative procedures before the European Commission.

More importantly, the application stood up to fierce objections from France, Germany, Italy, Austria and the UK on behalf of the different national members of the European Tea Committee (ETC).

Among other objections, ETC, representing EU tea blenders, claimed that the reputation of Darjeeling tea had been achieved by the EU tea blenders and not the producers and plantation workers.

Rejecting the objections, the European Commission held:

(i) That the savoir-faire and acquired skills employed by producers as well as the pedo-climatic features and geographical environment of the geographical area of Darjeeling (natural drainage of the soil, complex combination of very high rainfall and continuous low temperatures) significantly affect Darjeeling tea's characteristics which constitute the core of its reputation;

(ii) The name “Darjeeling” should only be used as a sales designation for tea grown and processed in accordance with the PGI. That means that, to be called “Darjeeling tea”, tea must be grown and dried in the Darjeeling area by traditional methods. The tea may be packaged outside of Darjeeling and teas from different Darjeeling tea gardens may be blended;

(iii) Tea which is a mixture of Darjeeling with other teas cannot bear the name “Darjeeling”;

(iv) Tea not conforming with the Darjeeling PGI specification can still be called “Darjeeling tea” for a transitional period of five years but only if that tea had been legally marketed in the EU for at least five years prior to October 14, 2009; this is, for example, applicable to green or white Darjeeling tea, but not to mixtures of Darjeeling tea with teas of others origin misleading the consumer;

(v) There is no proof of any generic status of the name “Darjeeling”.

Source: Business Line

Dooars sell readily at N. India tea auctions

KOLKATA, FEB. 3: This week at Sale No. 5, the total offerings ( packages) at three North Indian tea auction centres at Kolkata, Guwahati and Siliguri were 4,03,954 as compared to 3,36,937 in the corresponding sale of the previous year, according to J Thomas & Company Private Ltd, the tea auctioneers. The offerings at Kolkata were 1, 73,360 (1, 61, 401) comprising CTC/Dust 1, 49,751 (1, 46,591), Orthodox 21,684 (12,397) and Darjeeling 1,925 (2,413). The corresponding figures for Guawahati 1, 26,516 (82,498) and for Siliguri 1, 04,078 (93,038). Assam CTC teas maintaining quality sold at around last levels while remaining Assams were irregularly lower, particularly browner sorts. Well-made Dooars sold readily around last levels while the remainder tended irregularly easier. There was good support from Tata Global and Hindustan Unilever. Western India dealers were active for the liquoring sorts. There was fair enquiry from North India and local sections. Exporters operated primarily on the bolder brokens. Few selected cleaner and well-made Orthodox varieties were readily absorbed and sold following quality. The remainder eased in value. Stalkier varieties and plainer sorts met with fewer enquiries and saw some withdrawals. North India buyers operated on the bolder whole leaf. Hindustan Unilever operated selectively for the fannings. There was some export interest. Few Darjeeling whole leaf grades sold in line with quality. Brokens tended irregular while fannings witnessed better enquiry from exporters. Hindustan Unilever was very selective. Brokens and fannings were supported mainly by the local dealers.

Source: Times of India