India Halts Entry of Tea from Nepal Demanding 100% Lab Test Report

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India Halts Entry of Tea from Nepal Demanding 100% Lab Test Report

April 22: India’s customs office in Panitanki, West Bengal on Thursday barred the entry of 17 trucks carrying 2000 kilograms of tea produced in Nepal from entering India demanding 100% lab test requirement.

Earlier, the Indian customs used to allow the entry of tea produced in Nepal after presenting lab test report of 5 to 20 percent of randomly selected samples.

The absence of an internationally-recognized laboratory in Nepal poses challenges for exporting tea and other agricultural products from the Mechi Customs, as they must undergo testing in Kolkata, India.

Udaya Chapagain, president of the Nepal Tea Producers Association and a tea industrialist, complained that India has been consistently creating obstacles to the export of tea produced in Nepal due to the lack of an internationally-recognized laboratory in Nepal.

Chapagain mentioned that the Tea Council of India's demand for quality checks three years ago caused a week-long blockade of tea exports from Nepal.

Ram Prasad Regmi, Chief Customs Officer of Mechi Customs, reported that trucks carrying Nepalese tea cleared by Nepal have been barred entry to India since Thursday. Upon inquiry by the Nepali side, Indian customs officials revealed that the customs clearance process would require submission of lab test reports. As conducting 100% lab testing immediately is unfeasible, Regmi and his team are exploring ways to facilitate the entry of Nepalese tea trucks into India.

Annually, Nepal exports tea worth Rs 3 billion to India. A halt in exports would adversely affect tea-producing farmers, cooperatives, and tea traders of Nepal. Indian traders purchase 80% of Nepal's tea and sell them under various brands domestically and internationally. Nepal exports the remaining 20% of tea to China, Japan, Germany, the United States, Australia, Russia, and the Gulf countries.

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