Details Emerge About India’s $1 Billion ‘Triple 5’ Tea Program

NEW DELHI, India

A five-year plan to revitalize India’s tea industry, known as “Triple 5” is nearing completion according to the minister of state for commerce and industry.

Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia told reporters the INR 100-crore package (a $1 billion private-public partnership) will boost production and exports.

Details are not final but he outlined the five steps to be undertaken in the next five years. Scindia said government will contribute 75 percent of the cost of increasing yields by subsidizing growers during the replanting of aging bushes, increase acreage planted in tea, address a labor shortage, mechanize factories and promote exports to five countries, among them the United States.

India’s tea exports represent about 11 percent of the global market. It is the world's second-largest tea producing country at 967 million kgs of which 179 million kgs were exported. Global market share has declined steeply due to increased domestic consumption and the availability of less expensive African CTC (crush, tear and curl) teas.

India mainly produces CTC for the European, Middle East and Russian markets. Global demand is for orthodox, full- and partial-leaf tea, green tea and value-added blends. Neighboring countries Sri Lanka and China have increased their global share in these categories.

Kazakhstan, Russia, Egypt, the US and UK are now importing significant quantities of orthodox teas. Russia (including the CIS) represents the largest export market in the world.

Yields naturally decline in tea bushes after 25 to 30 years. Many of India’s bushes are 50 years and older. Uprooting the plants should be ongoing but growers instead continue to harvest because they cannot afford to wait three years for new plants to replace old-growth bushes. They are seeking a government subsidy paid as the plants mature which will likely to be part of the Triple 5 plan.

Scindia told the Economic Times  "…we are looking at the rate of replantation, rejuvenation and setting specific targets on a year-to-year basis." He says the government-run Tea Board is conducting a survey of tea estates to identify the most promising areas for rejuvenation and replanting

Sources: PTI, The Economic Times