April 29: Nepal has exported tea worth Rs 2 billion in the first nine months of the current fiscal year while the country has imported tea worth Rs 80 million during the review period.
Nepal, where other goods are imported in large quantities, has made good progress in exporting tea.
According to the data of the Department of Customs, Nepal has imported 183 metric tonnes of tea worth Rs 79.3 million in the first nine months of the current fiscal year. During the same period, 9,017 metric tons of tea worth Rs 2.36 billion was exported.
As Nepal's tea is considered to be of high quality, its demand is high in various countries like India, China, Sri Lanka, the USA, Australia and Europe. Therefore, the graph of tea export is higher than other commodities, said Dr Bishnu Prasad Bhattarai, executive director of the National Tea and Coffee Development Board.
Even in the previous year, export of tea was better than imports. Nepal imported 218 metric tons of tea worth Rs 77.3 million in FY 2076/77 and exported 11,185 tons of tea worth Rs 2.78 billion. In FY 2077/78, 346 metric tons of tea worth Rs 151.31 million were imported and 11,920 metric tons of tea worth Rs 3.79 billion were exported.
Bhattarai says that the export of tea can make a significant contribution to reduce the growing trade deficit if stakeholders focus on the quality of tea.
According to the data of the board, tea was cultivated in 16,917 hectares of land in Nepal in the fiscal year 2077/78. A total of 23,745 metric tons of tea was produced during the period. Although the current year's figures are not yet ready, the board estimates that production will increase by about 10 percent. More than 16,000 farmers and more than 60,000 workers are involved in tea farming in Nepal.
Nepali tea is in high demand in the world market and is being sold at a high price. However, more than 90 percent of exports go to India. Tea producers say that they are forced to sell tea at lower prices in India. Due to this, tea farming business has not been profitable in Nepal.
Binay Sharma, project coordinator of Nepal Increase Sustainable Tea Export Project, said that the variety of Nepali tea and technology could not be developed due to lack of research work on production and processing technology.