Tripura exports tea for the first time

By Sujit Chakraborty

Agartala, (IANS) The 90-year-old tea industry in Tripura has created history of sorts by exporting the beverage for the first time.

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“We recently exported 58,000 kg of tea named Jewel Tips to Iran and also got orders from Russia as well. This is the first time ever that Tripura’s tea has been exported,” said D.C. Das, manager of the Manu Valley Tea Estate.

The first lot of tea exported from Tripura to Iran was grown in the Manu Valley gardens, which has seven plantations in the state.

Tripura, bordering Bangladesh, produced 7.7 million kg of tea last year from an area of 6,430 hectares and is the fifth largest among 14 tea-producing states after Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

The Tripura government, in collaboration with the Tea Board, has plans to boost tea production by providing better irrigation facilities.

“We are preparing an action plan by undertaking a techno-metric survey in an attempt to boost the industry,” Tapan Chakraborty, Tripura’s industry and commerce minister, told IANS.

Tripura’s tea industry is the second largest organised sector in the state after rubber. About 13,500 people are directly employed in the 60 big gardens, with another 12,000 people involved in 229 small tea plantations, contributing to the state’s economy.

“The agro-climatic conditions are suitable for development of tea plantations in Tripura. Rejuvenation and pruning should be introduced here like in Darjeeling and South India for better results,” said P.K. Sarkar, secretary of the Tripura chapter of Tea Association of India.

The dragging tribal insurgency in the state has had an impact on the tea industry with at least 14 tea planters killed by rebels over the years, besides regular extortion demands.