Nepal has a long history of tea cultivation, initiated with the establishment of Ilam Tea Estate in the hills of Ilam district in 1863 and Soktim Tea Estate in the plains. It is believed that tea plantation in Nepal started within the same decade, when it was introduced in the hills of Darjeeling, India.
First private sector tea plantation in Terai was established in 1959 under the name of Bhudhakaran Tea Estate. Government joined the sector in 1966 with the establishment of Nepal Tea Development Corporation. After considering the potential for tea farming in the eastern development region, in 1982 five districts of the region i.e. Jhapa, Ilam, Panchthar, Terhathum and Dhankuta were declared ‘Tea Zone’. However now days Tea is also cultivated in few other districts.
Nepal Tea and Coffee Development Board says that promotional activities to promote Nepali tea in the international market are inadequate even though it is listed as a priority in the Nepal Trade Integration Strategy (NTIS) 2010. This list includes the 19 Nepali products that have export potential. “The government should be more concerned about its promotion in the international market so that it receives better market value and positioning in the international market,” states the board.
The 2011 – 12 statistics states that the tea plantations which covers the area of 18149 hectares of land across the nation annually produces 18.3 million kgs of Tea and provides direct employment to 100 thousand people. Private sector actors in the industry comprise of small farmer as well big corporate houses that have large tea estates with tea processing factories and marketing mechanism.
There are 140 registered tea estates and 40 tea processing factories that produce 85 per cent of the nation’s production volume.Some of these factories do not have their own tea estate. They process tea produced by small and medium tea farmers. This type of small holding tea estate farming is anticipated to flourish in the days ahead.
There are two types of tea packaging industries operating in Nepal. First of these are the ones operated large scale tea producers who have their own tea estates and use the facility to package their products exclusively. Another type of factories buy tea products from national and international producers and package it at their own facility.
Presently Tea plantation is dominated by small holders. Future target is set to extend plantation to 40 thousand hectares with an expected harvest of 46 million kg of tea annually whose worth is estimated to be around 247 million dollars. This will generate employment for 102 thousand people in rural areas and is expected to boost up the rural economy, states the Nepal Tea and Coffee Development Board.
National Tea and Coffee Development Board has developed a logo in accordance to the provision of the National Tea Policy 2000 to introduce N e p a l Tea in the domestic and international market and create its niche. Half circle green background embedded by double red circle of this national tea logo indicates the eco-friendly environment of the tea garden; where a tea twig having two leaves and a bud flourish. Along with that the smiling and shining southern face of the Mt. Everest placed in the upper half portion of this logo signifies as the tea produced in the land of Himalayas. Two words “NEPAL TEA” placed within the diameter of the logo circle establish unfailingly as a brand that symbolizes – “A symbol of quality from the top of the world.”