In a first such move, the Government of Nepal has announced plans to market Nepali orthodox tea in the international market.
Towards this end, the government has already approved the brand logo prepared by the National Tea and Coffee Development Board (NTCDB) and the Himalayan Orthodox Tea Producers Association (HOTPA).
This logo ensures that Nepali tea has met the international manufacturing standards.
Prior to global marketing, the logo will first be used in tea packets after its official launch in the Mt Everest region in April 2018.
“It is difficult to meet all the international standards in tea production, but we have to accept this challenge. This is the only way to make Nepali tea competitive in the international market,” says HOTPA CEO Chandra Bhushan Subba.
Any tea producers will have to meet the international labor standards set by the International Labor Organization (ILO) to promote their product in the international market.
With this rule in place, NTCDB and HOTPA have already begun conducting awareness programs among farmers and other stakeholders of Paanchthar, Dhankuta and Ilam for the successful marketing of Nepali tea in the international market.
The brand logo is expected to address the concerns of exporters who have been facing legal issues pertaining to export of their product in the international markets.
Nepal orthodox tea is old and known for its taste, however, has been facing trade and marketing challenges.
Out of 5.5 million kg of orthodox tea produced annually in Nepal, 10 percent is consumed in the domestic market and 10 percent is exported to third countries.
The remaining 80 percent is sold in the Indian market, where Nepali tea is marketed as Indian produce and again resold to foreign markets.
“We are compelled to rely on intermediaries although our products are of high quality. As a result, we have not been able to get good returns,” says Gayatri Basnet, a Sakhejung-based entrepreneur.
“This is the reason why we need a logo to brand our products overseas. It is not mandatory for tea producers to get the logo. But if they want to get good returns, this is one of the options,” says Subba.
Out of the total 24 million kg of tea produced annually in Nepal across 28,000 hectares, around 5.5 million kg is orthodox. Orthodox tea gardens in Nepal are across 16,000 hectares and are owned by around 30,000 small farmers.