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Geographical indicator regn for Assam, Nilgiris teas likely

Kohinoor Mandal

Kolkata , Nov. 25

AFTER succeeding in getting Darjeeling registered with the World Trade Organisation under the Geographical Indications (GI) stipulations, the Tea Board will be trying it for other regions too.

For the next financial year, the Tea Board will begin the process of getting GI registration for the tea-growing regions of Niligiris, Assam and Kangra (Himachal Pradesh).

According to Mr Basudeb Banerjee, Chairman of the Tea Board, each of these three regions has different aspects attached to it but all qualify for the GI registration at the WTO.

"Niligiri teas are famous for their flavour. It is unique and found nowhere in the world. Moreover the region growing these teas is small and can be easily demarcated. So getting GI registration will not be a big problem," Mr Banerjee told Business Line.

Same is with Kangra. However, the problem will be for Assam. First, it is a huge tea-growing region. Moreover, he said, the tea-growing region of Cachar did not own the speciality of Assam teas.

"We will have to sort it out. But the matter of fact is that Assam teas are one of the best-known Indian teas in the global market. We feel that there is a strong need for protecting Assam teas in the global market," he said.

Assam produces approximately 450 million kg (mkg) of tea every year out of the 850 mkg produced annually.

The Nilgiri Planters Association (NPA), founded way back in 1891, has already been pleading with the Union Government for a GI registration. On their part, the association has created its own logo and registered it.

Currently, the NPA own 36 tea gardens and 25 tea factories and its annual production is 16 mkg. These gardens are located in Ooty, Coonoor and Kotagiri. However, the growing region is larger than that covered by the NPA members.

In Tamil Nadu, the Nilgiri tea estates are spread from an altitude of 2000 to 8000 feet. The NPA members are located between 4,000 and 8,000 feet.

To map domestic offtake

THE Tea Board will soon appoint IIM Calcutta for mapping the domestic tea consumption pattern, a job that is pending for quite some time.

The B-school has already submitted its project proposal.IIM Calcutta is likely to take the help of the National Sample Survey Organisation for this job.

In 2001, IIM Calcutta carried out a similar survey but this time it is expected to be over a wider region and in more detail.

Mr Basudeb Banerjee said there was an immediate need to find out preferences of the domestic tea drinkers. "This is the most popular drink after water," he said.

Though the board will mandate IIM Calcutta to do the job this time, there is a possibility that it could be an annual activity.

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