Indian Tea Industry


    In Context

    • India has taken several steps to boost the output, create a niche brand for Indian tea, and ensure the welfare of the families associated with the tea industry.


    • Despite numerous geopolitical, geoeconomic, and logistical difficulties, it is anticipated that Indian tea exports will surpass 95% of the US$ 883 million goals set during 2022–23.

    Indian Tea Industry

    • India is the 2nd largest tea producer and largest black tea producer after China and 4th largest exporter of Tea in the world.
    • India is also the largest consumer of black tea and accounts for 18% of the total World tea consumption.
    • The Indian tea Industry is employing 1.16 million workers directly and an equal number of people are associated with it indirectly.
    • Tea cultivation in India is regulated by the Tea Board of India. 
    • Tea is one of the industries, which by an Act of Parliament comes under the control of the Union Govt.
    • The main tea-growing regions are in the Northeast (including Assam) and in north Bengal (Darjeeling district and the Dooars region). 
      • Tea is also grown on a large scale in the Nilgiris in south India. 

    Ideal climate condition for tea cultivation

    • Originate in tropical and subtropical climates. Major tea growing regions are mainly concentrated in Asia, Africa, South America.
    • Tea requires cool to warm temperatures with at least 5 hours of sunlight per day. The average annual temperature for tea plants to grow well is in the range of 15 – 23°C. The rainfall needed is between 150-200 cm.
    • For coffee plantations, a little high temperature ranging between 25°C-30°C is required and the rainfall required is high, similar to tea that is 150-200 cm. Only one difference is coffee needs protection from direct sunlight and therefore they are grown in shade.

    Challenges of Tea industry in India

    • The owners are reeling under higher costs of production and other issues.
    • Nepal, which shares similar climatic conditions and terrain, produces tea at a lower price because of less input costs, particularly labour, and fewer quality checks.
    • Inferior quality tea from Nepal is being imported, and then sold and re-exported as premium Darjeeling Tea. 
    • Because of the hilly terrain of Darjeeling there is no land left for expansion of tea gardens.
    • Some global factors like the decline in demand from European markets in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war have compounded the problem.

    Tea Board of India

    • The genesis of the Tea Board India dates back to 1903 when the Indian Tea Cess Bill was passed. 
    • The present Tea Board was set up under Section 4 of the Tea Act 1953. 
    • It is functioning as a statutory body of the Central Government under the Ministry of Commerce. 
    • The Board is constituted of 31 members (including Chairman) drawn from Members of Parliament, tea producers, tea traders, tea brokers, consumers, and representatives of Governments from the principal tea producing states, and trade unions .
    • HQ: Kolkata
    • The Board is reconstituted every three years. Earlier, the Tea Board had offices in Cairo and Kuwait. But these two offices were relocated to Dubai.

    Way Ahead

    • Small Tea Growers (STGs) should also be recognised as GI-registered producers on a par with the 87 tea estates which produce Darjeeling Tea to ensure better price premium. 
    • The Government should review and revisit the Indo-Nepal Treaty for incorporating stringent requirements for certificate of origin on tea imports from Nepal.

    Source: TH