They have affected Darjeeling tea sales this year due to the increase in the dominance of Nepali tea in the domestic market. Due to this, the average price of Darjeeling tea between January and September 2019 decreased by 27% as compared to the previous year. Its total purchase in the auction was less than 50%. The average price of Darjeeling tea in this year’s auction was around Rs 356.19 per kg. Last year the figure stood at Rs 486.21 per kg.
The 87 tea gardens of Darjeeling produce 8–85 lakh kg of tea annually. In 2017, tea gardens closed for four months due to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha agitation in Darjeeling, industry executives said. The quality of tea affected by this, the effect of which is still seen. Darjeeling Tea Association (DTA) Secretary Kaushik Basu said, “We hope the quality will improve by next year.”
Tea from Nepal is being sold in India in name of Darjeeling tea
DP Maheshwari, managing director of Jai Sri Tea & Industries, said, “Nepali tea has made a dent in the Darjeeling tea market. Nepali tea sold in the market as Darjeeling tea. It is difficult for customers to distinguish between them. Businessmen are taking advantage of this. He added, “Japanese buyers also pulled up after irregular supply in 2017. He used to buy 10 lakh kg of Darjeeling tea earlier. The market sentiment has also deteriorated. ‘
In 2017, after the Darjeeling tea plantation came to a standstill for four months, huge quantities of Nepalese tea started sold in India. The industry alleges that it is now making a dent in the global market for Darjeeling tea. The Secretary of the DTA said that it is difficult to ban Nepali tea because India has a free-trade agreement with Nepal. “We have asked the Tea Board to increase surveillance on Nepali tea so they cannot sell it in the domestic market in the name of Darjeeling tea,” he said.
Planter Shiv Shankar Bagadia of Darjeeling alleged that a large tea producer did not properly prune the old plantation last year. Due to this, the quality of tea has deteriorated. He said, ‘Their tea prices are not getting good. This has reduced prices in the auction.