Agri Business

Indian tea delegation puts off visit to Pakistan

Santanu Sanyal Kolkata | Updated on January 15, 2013 Published on January 15, 2013

tea leaves

The present tension along the India-Pakistan border and the consequent developments have cast a shadow over Indian Tea Association’s plan to take a tea delegation to Pakistan.

The situation, it is felt, is not conducive to undertaking such a tour. “We propose to take the delegation in March and hopefully the tension will ease by that time,” Arun N. Singh, Chairman of ITA, told Business Line. “We’ve already written to the Tea Board in this regard”.

Pakistan has emerged a major buyer of India tea, particularly the cheap South Indian variety. In 2011, India exported 25 million kgs to Pakistan, the highest ever, and the figure for 2012 is estimated at 21 mkgs or so.

“The potential to boost exports to Pakistan is huge as Pakistan’s total tea import will be over 200 mkgs annually,” Singh said emphasising the need for opening the road transportation of North India tea to Pakistan through the Attari-Wagah border. “Till the 1990s, a sizeable volume of Dooars tea moved along the route,” he said.

Iran visit

The visit to Iran too was on the cards and would be clubbed with the visit to Pakistan, the ITA Chairman said. The same delegation was scheduled to visit both the countries. The payment problem in Iran, he felt, had been sorted out for the time being. “I believe the present system of opening L/Cs in rupee is working well,” he observed. Iran is a big consumer of Orthodox variety and right now India exports about 15 mkgs to Iran annually.

ITA, according to the Chairman, has identified five key markets, namely, Pakistan, Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan and United States for pushing various types of India teas. While Russia and CIS countries were good markets for medium CTC and Orthodox varieties, US for different types for teas, particularly high-end premium types. Tea, if properly packaged and marketed, could provide a good alternative to soft drinks in the US. “In these markets, we will try to explore both B to B and B to C opportunities”, he said. India’s tea exports to Russia and CIS countries are estimated to 35 to 40 mkg and to the US, 10 mkgs annually.

Holding roadshows within the country to popularise tea drinking is also being planned by ITA. “We’re not targeting big metros but cities just below the metros and would like to involve the local traders in the proposed roadshows,” Singh added.

santanu.sanyal@thehindu.co.in

Published on January 15, 2013
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