Home Economy Assam to host ‘great Indian tea party’

Assam to host ‘great Indian tea party’


Guwahati : A major tea extravaganza kicks off in Assam Thursday to showcase India as a one-stop shop for quality teas before 400 domestic and foreign delegates in a bid to boost exports and increase domestic consumption, industry officials said Tuesday.

The three-day India International Tea Convention, described as the “great Indian tea party”, will be held in Assam’s capital city of Guwahati.

It will be attended by representatives from several tea producing and consuming countries aside from traders from home and abroad.

“The convention is aimed at promoting Indian tea with special focus on premium Assam tea. The presence of such a large number of delegates will help increase export volumes as well as raise domestic consumption of the popular beverage,” Dhiraj Kakaty, secretary of the Assam chapter of the Indian Tea Association (ITA), the country’s apex tea administration body, told reporters here.

The tea convention is being organised jointly by the Tea Board of India, ITA, and the Indian Trade Promotion Organisation.

Government and trade representatives from Germany, Egypt, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Kenya and other parts of the world are scheduled to arrive in Guwahati, a city of two million people, for the convention.

The Guwahati convention, coming after a similar event in Kolkata in 2003, offers another opportunity of global interaction with tea producers, exporters, blenders, distributors, packaging companies, equipment manufacturers, suppliers, trade associations and those involved in the tea industry.

Participants would get to taste some of the premier varieties of tea at the convention, besides interacting with local planters and tea makers from the Singpho tribe in Assam, who are believed to have first discovered tea bushes.

The convention comes at a time when India is eyeing new markets globally in the wake of crashing prices, a glut in the market, and falling exports.

India’s traditional tea market in Russia and the UK has been severely hit in recent years with the both the countries lifting cheap teas from Kenya and Sri Lanka.

Pakistan, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Iran are some of the new markets that are developing for India.

India is currently the world’s largest tea producer after China, with a record crop of 955 million kg last year. India exported 200 million kg of tea in 2006.

Local planters are happy at the government and industry’s decision to hold the tea convention in Assam.

“It is only natural that such a showpiece event is held in Assam, certainly the tea bowl of India, producing more than 50 percent of the country’s produce,” said Bidyananda Barkakoty, vice-chairman of the North Eastern tea Association, a local planters’ group.

Assam tea is known for its strong and rich flavour.