• India Tea News: Tata Tea Under Scrutiny | India Mandates Sale of All Tea Dust at Auction | Atul Asthana Resigns as MD and CEO of the Goodricke Group

    By Aravinda Anantharaman | Managing Editor

    India Tea News for the week ending 1 Mar 2024
    India Tea News | Aravinda Anantharaman
    India requires all dust grades to be sold at auction
    India requires all dust grades and 50% of the leaf and broken leaf teas to be sold at auction

    Tata Tea Under Scrutiny Again

    Shantha Chhetri, a former parliamentarian from Kurseong, has written to the offices of the Prime Minister of India and the Commerce Minister, raising concerns about Tata Consumer Products’ consumer packs. She said the company blends its tea with those from Nepal, which is unsafe for consumption and does not meet safety standards. She has urged the food safety regulator, FSSAI, and the Tea Board to test their tea for MRL levels of banned pesticides. The company responded that they do not import directly from Nepal. And that any Nepalese tea in blends is sourced from Indian traders. Tata explained that their teas are rigorously tested within the company and are deemed safe. In 2021, Tata Tea and Darjeeling were at loggerheads when the Tea Board prohibited blending imported teas with GI-protected Darjeeling, Assam, Kangra, and Nilgiri teas. A year later, this ban was lifted. The Telegraph

    Indian Government Requires 100% of Dust to be Sold at Auction

    The amendment of the Tea (Marketing) Control Order, 2003, will come into force from 1st April 2024. One of the directives is that 50% compulsory sale of tea and 100% sale of dust grades must be sold through public auctions starting 1st April. This order is targeted at estates in North India, including Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttarakhand, and West Bengal. Dust grades account for 25% of Assam and West Bengal tea production. Retail prices for CTC dust are currently Rs 160 to Rs 190 per kilogram (IndiaMART). The move is thought to support greater compliance of tea towards boosting exports. The mandate does not apply to many small-volume mini-tea factories. Industry stakeholders are divided in their opinion on this new move.

    Atul Asthana, MD, Goodricke Group Resigns

    Atul Asthana, Managing Director and CEO of The Goodricke Group Ltd., has resigned after 39 years with the company. The Goodricke Group includes 18 storied gardens, including Thurbo, Badamtam, Barnesbeg, Nonaipara, and Hope across Darjeeling, Assam, and the Dooars. Asthana led the company to years of profitability, retaining its position as a top producer in the tea market. Asthana also actively supports the tea industry and is currently Chairman of the Indian Tea Association. The decision to resign, he has said, was for personal reasons.

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  • India Tea News: State Budgets Include Tea Worker Housing Funds | Iran Remains a Lost Market for Indian Tea | New Study Reveals New Traits in the Assamica Plant

    By Aravinda Anantharaman | Managing Editor

    India Tea News for the week ending Feb 24, 2024
    India Tea News | Aravinda Anantharaman
    Budget allocates financing for worker houses
    Assam budget allocates financing for tea worker housing

    Budget Season and Aid for Tea

    As State Governments announce their budget for the upcoming financial year, the tea industry has been waiting for news on its impact. So far, the Tamil Nadu government has announced an incentive of Rs 2 per kilo to members of the state-owned INDCO cooperative in the Nilgiris. This benefits about 27,000 small tea farmers attached to the INDCO factories. In Assam, 130,000 houses were to be constructed as per last year’s budget. This year, 10% of the houses are earmarked for tea garden workers. Additionally, funds will be earmarked towards payments of electricity bills in arrears in the tea communities. In West Bengal, the finance minister said 2,500 acres of unused land in tea gardens had been recovered and land rights granted to 23,000 workers in the Dooars. The housing scheme here continued to be in focus, as land rights and funds for house construction were included. Five tourism projects on four tea estates in the region have also been approved.

    Iran Turns to Sri Lanka for Tea

    The Hindu Businessline reported that a barter agreement between Iran and Sri Lanka will mean India will continue to lose in this market. In 2023, India’s tea shipment to Iran decreased from 54.45 mn kilos (2019) to 6 million (2023). Iran and Sri Lanka have entered a barter to settle the latter’s oil debt of $250 million for fuel purchases made in 2012. According to the agreement, Sri Lanka will supply tea worth $5 million monthly for 48 months, ending in September 2027.

    Study on Assam Tea

    A study published in the Journal of Plant Beverage Research reveals new Camellia sinensis assamica varietal traits. Researchers from India and China who have worked on this study using 150 SNP markers and population genetics tools to conclude that Assam tea is unique. Researchers identified five distinct genetic populations independently domesticated from a western cluster of wild tea trees rather than introduced from a single origin. The varietal grown in Assam differs from the eastern cluster grown in Yunnan. This new understanding presents new possibilities for cultivating new hybrids bred from Assam tea.

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  • India Tea News: Nilgiris Small Farmers Seek Government Corpus | Assam’s Kaziranga Park Offers Tea Tourism Option | North Bengal Tea Worker Allegedly Starves to Death

    By Aravinda Anantharaman | Managing Editor

    India Tea News for the week ending Feb 16, 2024
    India Tea News | Aravinda Anantharaman
    • Jungle waterfalls at Kaziranga World Heritage Park
      Jungle waterfalls

    Assam’s Kaziranga Park Offers Tea Tourism Option

    Kaziranga National Park in Assam is set to offer visitors an immersive tea experience to guests. The Park saw 326,000 visitors in 2023 and is a popular destination in the northeast, especially as home to the largest one-horned rhinoceros population. The park is surrounded by tea gardens and communities and has been steadily adding more activities, such as safaris and cycling, to its offerings. With this new addition, they could well give tea a much-needed boost.

    See: Travel for Tea (Tea Journey Magazine)

    Save Small Tea Growers Forum Seeks Minimum Floor Price

    In the Nilgiris, the Save Small Tea Growers forum representing 65,000 small grower families has asked for the minimum price of green leaf to be set to Rs 35/ kilo. Current prices hover at Rs 15/ kilo, with the cost of production at about Rs 25. Until the price is fixed, the forum has asked the government to create a corpus to ensure the farmers are paid a fair price.

    North Bengal Tea Worker Allegedly Dies of Starvation

    Down to Earth magazine reported that 58-year-old Dhani Oroan, who worked at Madhu Tea Garden, Alipurdar, passed away on 2nd February 2024. A fact-finding team visited his home the next day. As per their report, Oroan’s wife, whom they met, showed signs of extreme starvation. Neighbors confirmed that Dhani also had been malnourished. The report offers details of Oroan’s wife’s height, weight, and BMI, which are well below normal. Madhu Tea Garden was closed for seven years and reopened in December 2023. In this period, the Oroans had no access to supplies via the Public Distribution System because their papers needed to be digitized, and various government documents needed to be linked in the backend. The couple depended on neighbors for a meal a day. Oroan died of a seizure. He could not avail medical help as the garden hospital was not functional, and no one around could afford to transport him to the nearest hospital.

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      Nilgiris Small Farmers Seek Government Corpus | Assam’s Kaziranga Park Offers Tea Tourism Option | North Bengal Tea Worker Allegedly Starves to Death | Episode 155 | 16 Feb 2024
  • India Tea News: UN Moves the Confederation of International Small Tea Holders HQ from China to India | Assam’s Barak Valley Presents 2023 Production Data

    By Aravinda Anantharaman | Managing Editor

    India Tea News for the week ending 9 Feb 2024
    Hear the Headlines | India Tea News Update
    The gathering of members at the FAO IGG in Guwahati, Assam. Photo via TRA, India.

    Small Tea Growers Confederation HQ to Shift to India

    At the 25th session of the FAO Intergovernmental Group on Tea at Guwahati earlier this month, it was decided that the headquarters of the Confederation of International Small Tea Holders will shift from China to India for the next four years. CITS was formed at the 22nd session of the FAO IGG (at Nairobi) to support the small grower segment globally, especially in policies and solutions. Globally, small growers account for 70% of the area under tea cultivation and 60% of production. The working group on smallholders includes members from Indonesia, China, India, Sri Lanka, Kenya, and Malawi. Bringing CITS to India is expected to help mobilize global best practices for small tea growers in India.

    Barak Valley Posts 2023 Production Decline

    The Surma Valley Branch of the Indian Tea Association has posted 2023 data. Accordingly, Barak Valley saw a decline of 1.3mn kilos in 2023 compared to the previous year. Unfavorable weather was cited as the main reason. Auction prices, too, saw a drop of about 5% from the previous year. The Association also stated that despite a wage increase of 204% in the last decade, expectations were not met with production due to two reasons – migration of people who used to work in tea and the adoption of small-scale agriculture by tea pluckers. Neighboring Tripura state was also said to be facing a similar problem.

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  • India Tea News: Guwahati Hosts BATIC 2024 to Celebrate 200 Years of Assam Tea | Artisanal Assamese Tea Farmer Maddhurjya Gogoi Passes Away

    By Aravinda Anantharaman | Managing Editor

    India Tea News for the week ending 2nd Feb 2024
    India Tea News | Aravinda Anantharaman
    BATIC 2024 | Assam Bi-Centenary Celebration

    Assam Celebrates 200 Years of Tea

    Ahead of the Intergovernmental Group on Tea’s meeting in Guwahati, Assam, the Tea Research Association hosted a 2-day Bicentenary Assam Tea International Conference as part of the bicentennial celebrations of the Assam tea industry. It took place on the 29th and 30th at the Radisson Blu, Guwahati, and saw close to 400 people from the industry, including guests from the global tea industry representing 25 countries, in attendance. While it was an event that brought people from the tea trade under one roof, there was also a series of discussions on current preoccupations in tea, including regenerative agriculture, marketing Indian tea, the small tea grower segment, and new technologies and innovations in tea. Keynote speakers were James Grayland of Wanlin Teahouse, Shanghai, and Nitin Saluja of Chaayos.

    In Memoriam: Maddhurjya Gogoi, tea farmer

    Tea Farmer Maddhurjya Gogoi,46, passed away suddenly on 31st January 2024 after suffering a cerebral stroke. Maddhurjya was a pioneer in the artisanal tea sector in Assam, running Assam Teehaus, a direct-to-market brand of craft tea. His teas have earned rave reviews across the world. Maddhurjya’s contribution to Assam tea is significant, as is his relentless pursuit of organic specialty tea making. Maddhurjya is survived by his mother and two young children.

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      India Tea News: Guwahati Hosts BATIC 2024 to Celebrate 200 Years of Assam Tea | Artisanal Assamese Tea Farmer Maddhurjya Gogoi Passes Away | Ep 153 |
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