December 10: Stakeholders have warned that the tea industry, the largest foreign exchange earner after cardamom, is facing a crisis. They raised this issue at a time when the National Tea and Coffee Development Board (NTCDB) is targeting to bring in foreign currency twice as much in the current fiscal year compared to the previous fiscal year.
Harka Tamang, a tea farmer, said the government does not list tea as agriculture product and imposes electricity tariff on par with an industry and this is affecting irrigation. Furthermore the absence of an auction market is obstructing access to the international market.
Likewise, Central Vice President of All Nepal Trade Union Bhupal Sapkota blames the NTCDB of not playing an effective role in solving the problems of tea industrialists, businessmen, farmers and workers.
Furthermore, Central President of Nepal Tea Plantation Workers' Union, Deepak Tamang, accused the state of being apathetic in solving the problems of the tea sector. He complained that the board has not played a coordinating role in implementing the law while the workers of some plantations are not even getting wages as per the Labour Act.
Meanwhile, Executive Director of the Board, Bishnu Prasad Bhattarai, pledged to play an effective role in solving the existing problems in the tea sector and properly address all the problems raised by the stakeholders.
According to the statistics of the board, the country earned Rs 3.80 billion in foreign exchange through tea export during the last fiscal year. The main markets of tea produced in Nepal include India, China, Sri Lanka, Russia, and the Netherlands.
Tea plantation is done in 20,237 hectares of land in Nepal with 99 percent of it produced in Koshi province. Altogether 30 orthodox tea industries and 38 CTC tea industries employ 70,000 people. -- RSS