Vimala Vasan

Abu Dhabi, Sept. 8

THE Indian Tea Board has set an overall export target of 200 million kg (mkg) for 2005. Plans are on to produce more orthodox tea and address issues of quality and packaging to garner a bigger share of the global export market, said the Board's Chairman, Mr N.K. Das.

Mr Das, who headed a 12-member delegation to participate in a buyer-seller meet in Dubai, told Business Line during his visit that overall export figures, which touched 185-190 million kgs last year, is targeted to rise to 200 million kgs this year.

In terms of export strategies in the coming period, the focus will be on production of more orthodox tea to meet growing demand.

The quality of tea produced for exports, particularly issues like maximum residue levels, proper cleaning and packaging are being addressed to put out a better and more competitive product in the global market, he said.

"Our policy is aimed at maintaining the purity of Indian tea for the local as well as export markets," he said.

India produces 800 million kgs of tea annually, accounting for 26 per cent of the global tea production.

Mr Das referred to the Gulf and West Asia as important markets for Indian tea. "The UAE is emerging as a very important re-export market, while traditional markets such as Iran and Egypt have lifted restrictions on imports. This has increased prospects in the region. With regard to Iraq, there is a bit of trade through private channels. Cost factors are in play at present, but we hope to increase our presence over time," he said.

Mr Das said regular buyer-seller meets were being held in the region and the feedback was positive. On the introduction of tea trading by the Dubai Metals and Commodities Centre, Mr Das said that the Board was in talks with the DMCC since it started operations. Mr Das said exporters needed to look at costs and do a lot of hard work in the area of marketing to be more competitive in the global market. The Tea Board of India can help with infrastructure and facilitate other aspects, but marketing is a factor that companies have to address, he said. Tea companies have in recent years taken advantage of the facilities offered at the export processing zones, he added.

The Indian delegation to the buyer-seller meet included members of the Indian Tea Association and the Indian Merchant Tea Exporters Forum.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 9, 2005)
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