High profit lures Ilam farmers to Oolong TeaTea farmers in Ilam have switched to Oolong Tea from traditional varieties due its high demand in the international market.
Tea farmers in Ilam have switched to Oolong Tea from traditional varieties due its high demand in the international market.
Oolong Tea, a popular variety in China, is a semi fermented white tea rich in antioxidant elements and has several health benefits.
The farmers said high profitability of Oolong Tea compared to traditional varieties prompted them to make the switch.
Man Kumar Mukhiya, who runs a medium-sized tea processing centre, has imported a machine used in China and Taiwan to produce Oolong Tea. “In order to get access to the global market, we have to make sure that the product meets global standards,” said Mukhiya. “Therefore, I invested more than Rs3 million in the machine to start production of the new tea variety.”
Mukhiya said while producing Oolong Tea, only tea buds are used as it guarantees high quality. “Although Oolong Tea production is still in trial phase, we are already getting demand from the international market,” he said.
Mukhiya owns 25 ropanies of tea estate, but he also procures tea buds from 150 farmers. “At present, we are offering Rs50 per kg to farmers,” said Mukhiya. “Form next year, we will offer Rs70 per kg.”
National Tea and Coffee Development Board has supported Mukhiya in his endeavour by providing a grant worth Rs1.5 million to establish the factory. Mukhiya plans to export around 2.5 tonnes of Oolong Tea to Russia this season.
Sharad Subba, another tea producer from the district, produces more than 12 varieties of tea from his factory and exports to countries like the US, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. He processes and exports more than six tonnes of tea annually. “There are more than 50 small tea factories in Ilam and almost all of them are trying to produce specialty tea in a bid to get better market,” said Gobinda Dahal, chairman of Central Tea Co-operative Federation.