In the picture: Roshni Lama
The unique geography and climate of Nepal offer us the best terrain to cultivate high-quality green tea leaves.
WHY DISCOVER NEPAL TEA?
Nepal’s discovery of this rich soil for high-quality tea cultivation has increased awareness of the potential of this next cash crop.
High altitude, diversified agro-ecology, pollution free environment, unique biodiversity and abundance of natural resources, virgin organic soil and mineral waters in hills and mountains allow Nepali farmers to produce numerous cultivars of teas.
Small farmers and processors are driving the rapid growth of the Nepali tea industry. Where once only cows, yak, and sheep roamed, farmers are transforming these barren lands into productive tea plantations. With young tea bushes yielding excellent leaf quality, farmers are now positioned to harvest their young tips, producing the finest specialty teas.
These teas are not mass produced but hand processed in smaller amounts, making them rare and exotic. These teas are primarily grown and processed by small-scale farmers at their own well-equipped mini facilities. The unique taste and aroma are a direct result of processing skills and expertise. With such strong foundations, a compelling story, and exotic production, Nepali tea farmers are now ready for a payoff as they have laid the groundwork for increased trade. Moving their trade to a global market will empower them to get a jump start through this cash crop.
“Only good teas can come from the Himalayas.”
The most vulnerable link in the production chain
Tea in Nepal is cultivated primarily by hundreds of small-scale farmers providing them an extra income and a livelihood option for more than 70,000 people who are directly and indirectly working in this industry. Likewise, the Nepal tea industry heavily relies on 83.5% of tea producers who are all small scale farmers. Any upgrade in Nepal’s tea value chain will directly impact these marginal farmers. Casual labor is required year-round to pick tea leaves. Tea buds turn into leaves within a few days if they aren’t picked routinely. Once plucked, the harvested leaves need to be processed within 24 hours. Tea production is a labor-intensive industry, providing significant employment opportunities to local workers.
More than 70% of the labor force involved in tea picking are women.
Through the support of USAID, DANIDA and a few other donors over the last decade, Nepali tea farmers have been helped with improved technologies and infrastructure setups. These farmers were also given special training in organic production, quality improvement, and manufacturing techniques. With several mini processing units established by a funding mechanism between small tea farmers and donor organizations, the need for green leaves has surged. Green tea leaves are in huge demand, giving the growers more bargaining power. This is a huge step forward for the tea farmers of Nepal.
Nepal’s orthodox tea sector is in its infancy, unable to penetrate any international market other than India. With only one market, tea exports yield very low-profit margins to the hardworking farmers, with the majority of the profit enriching the middleman and third-party suppliers. Less than 5% of Nepal’s tea is exported to the lucrative overseas market. Due to the lack of an organized marketing system and a disconnected supply chain, Nepal tea as a brand image hasn’t been promoted sufficiently to compete globally.
“Small is Beautiful: Quality Pays”
The hardships facing small tea farmers was the main reason for establishing Specialty Tea Association of Nepal in support of USAID Nepal funding NEAT Project (2012) and furthermore supported by DANIDA funded UNNATI (Inclusive Growth Programme), with the objective of supporting small tea farmers and processors in production, processing, quality management, and marketing.
STANwants to champion innovation by promoting small farmers premium teas and helping the small tea farmers industry thrive. STAN only partners with farmers that adhere to its principles. Teas must be very high quality. Tea farmers understand there could be a potential problem in the future if they do not develop standards. STAN has laid out a strategic vision on how the farmers should bring their tea up to the required level.
The teas produced from small processors need to go through secondary processing to assure the quality control as per the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO). A private funding mechanism between the small farmers and STAN, brought Eastern Nepal Tea Processing Center (ENTP), into operation. ENTP helps small farmers and processors enter global markets, ensuring their certified products conform to the minimum international standards.
Small Farmers’ Premium Teas from Nepal
Discover Nepal Tea as a brand under the guidelines of STAN, subscribes teas from small farmers and processors and promote it globally. Discover Nepal Tea will not only host their teas but stands as a platform which will link these small farmers and processors directly to their customers generating direct sales in international markets. The hard work of these growers and processors cannot pay off without a healthy trade. With donor programs phasing out to support furthermore and no guarantee of future foreign funds, Replace AID with TRADE is an alternative to develop an economy that will sustain. The tea bushes sowed by the farmers will only then have an outlasting result.
REPLACE AID WITH TRADE
The hard work of these growers and processors cannot pay off without a healthy trade. With donor programs phasing out and no guarantee of future foreign funds, Replace AID with TRADE is an alternative to develop a sustainable economy. The tea bushes sowed by the farmers will only then have a long-lasting result.
Nepali tea farmers no longer need aid. Their investment, with the donor-funded program, has transformed the tea industry and transitioned small tea growers into small tea processors. However, their continued evolution and ultimate success hinge on developing the ability to trade their product, beyond just India. They should be able to introduce their superior tea to the world market.
Nepal Tea and Coffee Board has now registered Nepal-tea as a collective trademark and issued directives to conduct a common set of standards for all businesses participating in tea production and export from Nepal.
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Only good teas can come from the Himalayas
About time we deliver the quality from the Himalayas.
An amazing tea, from an incredible country with the most wonderful people.