As tea industry sinks in Darjeeling, it seeks alternate sources of income

As tea industry sinks in Darjeeling, it seeks alternate sources of income
As tea industry sinks in Darjeeling, it seeks alternate sources of income/ANI
As tea industry sinks in Darjeeling, it seeks alternate sources of income
As tea industry sinks in Darjeeling, it seeks alternate sources of income/ANI

As tea industry sinks in Darjeeling, it seeks alternate sources of income

As tea industry sinks in Darjeeling, it seeks alternate sources of income

As tea industry sinks in Darjeeling, it seeks alternate sources of income

The tea industry in Darjeeling has been a major contributor to its economy, but recently tea exports and industry revenues have declined. Subashesh Roy, manager of Arya Tea Estate in Darjeeling, spoke candidly about the situation there.  “On record, there are 87 tea gardens that are protected by GI and 40 percent of the total production is exported while 60 percent is sold within the country and 50 percent of it is also exported by traders. 

Exports are the main income for this industry,” Rai told ANI. He added that 50 percent of the income comes from March and April planting which is the first flush and best in quality but recently Darjeeling production has declined. Asked about the reasons for this state of the tea industry, he said, “One reason is that at least 90 percent of Darjeeling tea production has gone organic for the last 10-15 years and after going organic it has decreased. 30 percent itself.” He said that the second reason is the old bushes, which are at least 100 years old, which has reduced the yield. He added that the third reason is the climatic conditions. Twenty years ago, now we don’t have when it rains, it rains incessantly or it doesn’t rain at all and we face drought.”  The manager of Arya Tea Estate also described this challenge.

Nepal tea and lack of plantation workers is the reason for the decline in production. It buys from Nepal and it also comes to India and sometimes it appeals to the administration,” added Rai, “The industry is also facing a shortage of tea plantation workers, the industry has always been a breeder. In terms of providing employment, the generation does not want to work, so there is a shortage of workers. Many tea plantation workers also expressed their concern over low wages.

When ANI reached out to some of the tea plantation workers to better understand their plight, they expressed their concern over low wages.  “We like it. To work but the pay is not good, but we don’t get anything big, we expect at least Rs 500 a day,” tea plantation worker Chanalati Gurung told ANI.  “We have been told several times that the wages will be increased but it is still the same,” he added. We expect a daily wage of at least Rs 500.” 

Regarding the concerns raised by the tea plantation workers, Subashesh Roy said that currently, they get Rs 250 as their daily wages which the government has set by, whereas earlier wages were less than Rs 200.

Amid this downturn, Rai said the industry is looking for alternative sources of income, mainly tea tourism  The tea estates in West Bengal have allowed for tea tourism in the tea estate area.

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