A year following the destructive Gorkha quake Nepal’s tea industry is more worried about rain than rattling soil.
“The first flush harvest is now finished in the hilly orthodox areas,” writes Rabin Rai, general secretary of the Central Tea Cooperative Federation (CTCF) in Nepal. “Now the gardens will rest while waiting to begin the second flush. Production decreased compared to last year’s first flush due to dry weather,” he said.
Tea exports dropped 1.13% last year “despite a significant growth in the plantation area and volume of production,” according to a report in the Kathmandu Post.
More troubling is the fact that economic growth has slowed to a 14-year low. In a report, also published in the Kathmandu Post, the slowdown was blamed “on a four-month border blockade, months-long Tarai unrest and delayed reconstruction which hit the economy hard.
“The Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) in its National Account Estimate Report, which was made public on Tuesday, has projected the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 0.77 percent for fiscal year 2015-16. Last time when economic growth was below one percent was in fiscal year 2001-02 when the GDP saw a meagre growth of 0.16 percent,” according to the newspaper.
Demand for Nepali orthodox and green tea is on the rise in India, according to Sheshkanta Gautam, executive director of the National Tea and Coffee Development Board. Loose leaf teas account for 21.2% of production. Eighty percent of Nepal’s orthodox teas are exported with 40% of the total destined for India. Nepal exported tea with a net worth of NPRs2 billion in 2014-15 ($18.7 million) compared to NPRs2.02 billion ($18.9 million) in the previous year. Volume was 23,186 metric tons, compared to 21,076 in 2013-14. Hectares under tea grew from 20,120 hectares to 26,165 hectares (64,655 acres).
In July 2015 Nepal approved a Nepal Tea collective trademark for the orthodox teas produced there. The trademark is an assurance of the quality of the product. The use of the trademark on Nepali coffee guarantees that organic practices have been followed in the production process, production environment, processing and packaging.
John Taylor, Marketing Manager for HIMCOOP (a Himalayan tea cooperative) confirmed the harvest is down due to climatic conditions. “The earthquake had no effect on the tea regions,” he said.
Damage to infrastructure was largely in the capital and in those cities nearest the epicenter.
Deepak Kafle is a television news cameraman in Nepal. He visited damaged regions and shared several photographs of the devastation including many temples.
According to Kafle historian Prushottam Lochan Shrestha said at the time “We have lost most of the monuments that had been designated as World Heritage Sites in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur District, Nepal. They cannot be restored to their original states.”
The April 25, 2015 quake killed more than 8,800 people but the rural death toll was minimal since most villagers were outdoors. Nearly 3.5 million people were left homeless. Malnutrition in children has worsened. Before the quake, 41% of children under five were stunted, 29% were underweight and 11% were emaciated, according to the World Food Programme.
Source: Kathmandu Post