Organic tea production vis--vis world market

by Dr. N. G. Hajra


A number of tea plantations in South Asia are progressively going organic, creating a distinct sub-set within the traditional plantation sector and taking this commodity crop onto a new trajectory. Over the past 15 years, certain pockets within the tea planting districts in the Eastern Himalayas, the Western Ghats of India, and some areas in Sri Lanka, China have been converted to organic processes. The organic tea sector is still a very small part of the tea industry but the number of organic tea producers and the volume of organic tea traded in the world market have recorded high growth over the last couple of years. This development can be explained by a number of factors viz. awareness of pesticide residue and heavy metals in conventional teas, and other potential health hazards connected with an intensive system of tea production. Organic tea has a niche market, where the produce sells at a premium price. India leads the world in organic black tea output and Sri Lanka is quite strong as well. Organic green tea is mainly exported from China. The domestic market for organic tea does not yet exist in India and Sri Lanka. In China, the major product is high quality green tea in domestic market. The problems and perspectives of organic tea production, management practices followed in cultivating organic tea in India, trends of tea production after conversion from conventional practices are discussed in the present paper.