Ninety billion US dollars and we grow one-third of the world crop. We take home just one-tenth of the world turnover, although our teas are good. Let us explore the ways and means of getting our fair share. Better packaging and better marketing are the only answers.
The Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), in association with Indian Tea Board, organized an Indian Tea Forum on the 13th and 14th of December 2013 in Siliguri. It was the third in its own series starting in 2010. FAITTA – Federation of All India Tea Traders Associations – was the main participating partner, including big traders and brand marketing companies as members across India.
The theme was the improvement in quality from North Bengal tea areas, as well as its competition with Assam tea, which has far higher price realization. Issues discussed included better planting material, machinery modernization, technological improvements, better packaging, better marketing and utilization of tea tourism potential.
It was conducted in a slightly different way from the usual lectures and panel discussions which involved the audience. Instead of too many sessions, there were too few, but more involvement was sought which did the trick and it was hugely successful.
A buyer-seller meet was organized. Speciality teas were presented to visitors to demonstrate the advancements in manufacture. The impact was enormous because the small growers’ sector never realized these issues before, other than planting high quantity producing bushes, then using excessive pesticides and plant growth products to get higher returns. Without realizing that factories will produce inferior teas as a result of such actions – thereby resulting in lower unit price realization – the small growers were repeating a cycle of disappointing yields.
Awareness comes from education, and CII is the catalyst of that growth. A delegation from Mozambique realized many things about tea.
Let us hope for better days.
Images courtesy of the author.