Agricultural Sector and Marketing Reforms – eNAM, Model APMC Act, Eco Survey Reco, etc.

Darjeeling Tea Industry in Crisis


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Darjeeling Tea

Mains level: Not Much


Tea Board officials admitted that Indian tea had not been able to establish itself globally, and that one of its key brands, Darjeeling Tea, was under acute stress.

About Darjeeling Tea

  • Darjeeling Tea, called the ‘Champagne of Teas’, was the first Indian product to get the GI (Geographical Identification) tag in 2004 for its distinctive aroma and flavour.
  • About 87 gardens in Darjeeling which employ about 55,000 workers produce approximately 7 million kg of tea, most of which is exported.

Why is it under distress?

  • Garden owners are reeling under higher costs of production and other issues.
  • Inferior quality tea from Nepal is being imported, and then sold and re-exported as premium Darjeeling Tea.
  • Nepal shares similar climatic conditions and terrain, produces tea at a lower price because of less input costs, particularly labour, and fewer quality checks.
  • In 2017, the production of Darjeeling Tea hit a low of 3.21 million kg. Since a substantial market of Darjeeling Tea switched to cheaper varieties of tea, including the imported variety from Nepal.
  • Tea planters and industry experts admit that the tea industry in Darjeeling has not recovered from the damage it incurred in 2017.

Is climate change impacting production?

  • The decline in production is due to multiple factors, which include climate change, declining yields, and high absenteeism among workers.
  • Because of the hilly terrain of Darjeeling, there is no land left for expansion of tea gardens.
  • The tea bushes are older than other parts of the country.
  • Uprooting and planting them is both time and cost-intensive.


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