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`India must increase tea exports to Pak'

L.N. Revathy

UPASI calls for multi-pronged approach

Coimbatore , April 24

The South Indian tea industry perceives that the estrangement between India and Pakistan has thawed on many fronts. While citing improved bilateral relationship between the two countries, the UPASI President, Mr E.B. Sethna, referred to the second visit of the Pakistani tea delegation in close succession to the maiden visit in 2003.

"That Pakistan is interested in our CTC grades is obvious. The Kenyan drought is to our advantage at present. We have to capitalise on our potential - penetrate by making the kind of teas to suit their requirements," he told Business Line.

Besides Pakistan, there is a need to explore the possibility of export to every market, he added, stressing the need to look at the CIS market more aggressively.

"It should be a multi-pronged approach. While Pakistan is emerging as an important market for us, we should also look to increasing our production of orthodox teas for other markets and strengthen internal consumption as well. There is a lot of scope in the domestic space. Our per capita consumption, though improved, is still low at 700 gm."

While ruling out domestic production shortfall, he said that he envisaged some tightness in the supply to Indian homes particularly because the industry was active on the export front and in view of the global production deficit (estimated at 90 million kg).

To a query, he said: "When the going was good, we did not control our costs. Today, we are unable to compete on the rate front."

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