Building a Sustainable Tea Industry in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka

21 July 2023, Jhapa, Nepal –  India and Sri Lanka, the second and fourth largest tea producers globally, employs 3.5 and 1 million people, respectively. On the other hand, Nepal, ranked 19th in production, seeks its own path to economic prosperity. To examine how the tea industry could strengthen sustainability, GGGI along with its partners concluded a consultation workshop with government officials and key industry leaders.  Under the project “Strengthening Sustainability of the Tea Industry in India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal” GGGI aims to enhance the sustainability of the tea sector in the three countries by building climate resilience and promoting green investments.  

To discuss the challenges and opportunities faced by the tea sector GGGI brought together key stakeholders from Nepal.  GGGI also shared its project implementation approach, working themes, and progress status in the country.  “We commend GGGI’s initiative and have confidence in its ability to address the critical concerns of tea industry. In this regard, there is a need for institutionalization in the field, policy modifications, and support for organic certification and manure usage in the tea sector,” said Dr. Lekh Raj Dahal, Secretary of the Ministry of Industry, Agriculture, and Cooperative, Koshi province. “Additionally, we propose a range of measures, including learning exchange programs, the establishment of national-level certification agencies, ensuring labor safety and security, promoting women-friendly technologies, and providing support for branding, packaging, irrigation, and technological advancements in the tea industry,” added Secretary Dahal.  

During the discussions, several critical concerns were raised, including labor issues, health, and safety programs for workers, as well as the need for government assistance in reducing the high production costs. Participants stressed the significance of establishing appropriate policies and guidelines, endorsed by the government, to effectively address the existing challenges in the tea sector.  

“One of the urgent needs in the tea industry is to prioritize production, particularly in implementing good agricultural practices,” said Mr. Purusottam Prasad Gupta, Senior Project Coordination Officer, GGGI. “While marketing efforts have received significant attention from international organizations, we want to emphasize providing support and resources to cope with changing climate and impact in tea production,” Mr. Gupta added. The workshop participants also recognized the importance of focusing on agro-forestry practices to mitigate the impacts of climate change, retain soil moisture, and create additional income opportunities. 

Overall, the discussion marks a preliminary step for GGGI to work towards boosting Nepal’s tea industry and fostering sustainable growth for all stakeholders involved.  Next, GGGI will conduct a Sustainability Needs Assessment (SNA) and develop an investment pipeline to encourage the adoption of green practices and raise awareness among stakeholders involved in CTC and Orthodox tea production. GGGI’s project to strengthen the tea sector is funded by GGGI’s core donors.