Staff Reporter

COIMBATORE: The demand for Indian orthodox tea in Russia has gone up, and India will export more to Russia this year, Basudeb Banerjee, chairman, Tea Board, said on Friday.

Speaking at the Annual General Meeting of the Tea Trade Association of Coimbatore, he said the Indian and Russian Governments had struck an agreement to promote joint ventures. Russia’s Agriculture Ministry had stipulated that only tea with a minimum of 75 per cent Indian tea content be called Indian tea. By next year, he said, Russia would have a law in place.

Stress on quality

There was a stress on quality, and the Board would encourage production of more orthodox tea.

But, exports to Iraq had slumped. The difficult market and the absence of an embassy in the country had made negotiations difficult, Mr.Banerjee said. Being an exporter, he said, India should be prepared for such ups and downs. Though the volume of export had gone down, the value had increased.

Tea export to Pakistan had also gone down. But the country’s mindset of shunning Indian tea had disappeared, Mr. Banerjee said. There was a lot of demand, especially in the North Western Frontier Province and Lahore. Pakistan added tea to the list of commodities that could be imported by rail through the Wagah border. He reckoned it to be a long-term advantage to India.

Healthy domestic demand

The domestic demand was also healthy. However, there had to be an increase in consumption in West Bengal and Assam. For this, different ways should be considered.

One such was a campaign for promoting ice tea as a cool drink that could be made at home, he said.

Mr. Banerjee said there were sufficient funds for developing the e-auction system. About Rs. 8 crore had been spent on software purchase, and the government had permitted NSE.IT to provide software consultation. The new e-auction system would be in place by next year.

A committee, consisting of brokers, producers and vendors, buyers, experts and Tea Board members, would be formed.