Ban on exports of tea leaves to impact tea industry in Darjeeling

Sunday, February 27, 2011

DARJEELING/SILIGURI - The announcement of a ban on the exports of tea leaves by the regional Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) in West Bengal will hit the world famous tea industry of Darjeeling.

The town of Darjeeling is known to produce the world’s best blend of tea.

Tea producers and exporters said that the proposed ban would severely affect the industry and their livelihood.

“The loss would be in crores and the loss would be around ten million rupees or so. In a year there is about eight million kilograms tea produced and two million kilograms are produced in the first flush itself,” said Manoj Tripathi, a tea producer.

Many tea producers here are of the view that the rich history and tradition of producing tea is already facing problems and the future of the industry looks grim if such a situation continues.

Locals in the region, who work as labourers in the tea gardens, depend on tea production for their livelihood and say that this would be a huge blow to their only source of income.

The first flush season during the month of March has a rich aroma and is a preferred one for most people, as two million kilograms are exported every year during this period.

“Actually, the motive and intention of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha is to resist and collect revenue from tea, but on the contrary the burden it will automatically comes upon the tea industry because you see if tea industry is not benefited then how the workers will be benefit,” said Prabir Seal, a tea exporter in Siliguri.

The tea producers here said that banning tea exports would present a poor impression on the foreign buyers who visit the region to purchase the product in bulk.

Over 40,000 tonnes of tea is exported worldwide every year, while the annual production is estimated at 10,000 million tonnes including local consumption.

Producers and exporters also say that the ban would give the tea industry in Nepal a huge boost.

A renewed demand for a separate Gorkhaland region, which would include Darjeeling and some contiguous areas of Jalpaiguri District, has created fresh turmoil over the past few months.

At the fifth round of tripartite talks in New Delhi, the GJM had agreed to the constitution of an interim council by 2011 prior to the creation of a separate state.

The Gorkha population in West Bengal estimated to be around a million has been demanding a separate state. (ANI)

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