TEA DEVELOPMENT IN NEPAL: OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES
Ganesh Shakya and Chandra Man Shrestha
The global tea connoisseurs had already remarked Nepali tea as one of the best ever in the world. This connotation itself is a self explanatory that clearly indicates the future of tea in Nepal. Nepal has one and half century experience in tea development sector. But, tea industry in Nepal took momentum only after the private sector involved in this sector. Tea is recognized as third export item of Nepal. Tea, scientifically known as camellia sinesis is not a new object for Nepal. The history of tea in Nepal dates back to 1863 AD when the first tea plantation was noticed in Ilam district. After 1950 democratic movement, the door opened for private sector to invest in tea industry. Following after formation of NTCDB, the National Tea Policy has been introduced in the year 2000. In Nepal, tea sector contributes 0.17 percent to the total Agriculture Gross Domestic Products (AGDP) and also contributes 6.48 percent to the total agro products export. Tea sector is also a very good platform for employment generation particularly for rural women employment. Beside that it is a good source of revenue for the government. There are many challenges that yet to be addressed by the related stakeholders. Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) agreement was one of the mandatory obligations of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Nepal as a member of the WTO must follow the TBT provision. Quality Certification is another big challenge in tea sector. Furthermore, price competitiveness is also a great challenge. In Nepal, auction system is not yet introduced. Auction market is necessary to bring together buyers and sellers, and ensure transparency. It is already cleared that tea is a potential export oriented cash crop to earn foreign currency with many opportunities to develop this sector. Therefore, both the public and private sectors involving in this sector must be prudent to cash in the opportunities. If the quality and standard issues are taken seriously by the Nepalese tea traders, Nepal, no doubt, can increase its share in the global market.