Tea Board has clamped down on import of cheap teas to India from Kenya and Nepal that are being sold in the global markets as teas of Indian region and are also being consumed in the country by unwitting tea drinkers. The board has threatened the tea importers to cancel their import licences if it is found that they are importing cheap teas to the country and has laid down certain rules and restrictions which the importers must adhere to.
The board officials will spring surprise visits at warehouses where imported teas are being stocked to check the quality of teas. The move comes after the tea industry raised their concern over rising imports of cheap teas in the country.
From January to August 2021 tea imports increased by 34 per cent compared to the same period of 2020 and unit price of import has gone down. Though the cumulative import has gone up by 34 per cent on a standalone basis, import from Nepal has increased by 28% and Kenya by 146% in the same period.
“The board has taken the right decision to curb entry of cheap teas to the country, which is being sold in the world markets as teas of Indian origin and thereby tarnishing the image of Indian tea,” said Tea Board chairman P.K. Bezbaruah.
According to the WTO agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), no other teas, leave alone the imported teas, can be blended with Assam (orthodox tea), Darjeeling, Kangra and Nilgiris (orthodox tea) that have GI (geographical indication) tag.
The onslaught of inferior quality imported teas has been the harshest for Darjeeling tea trade. Nepalese teas have dented their market in India as well as in the global markets.
The Tea Board has said that all importers importing tea into India for the purpose of distribution will have to inform the storage of such imported teas to the nearest Tea Board office within 24 hours of storage. Random samples will be collected by the board from the stock of such imported teas meant for distribution in India for the purpose of ascertaining whether such samples conform to the requirement laid down for tea or not.