171 yrs heritage Kangra Tea, yearning for its revival amid various challenges

Perennial good spell of rain and open landscapes of this northwestern Himalayn state of India charmed Britishers in 1849 AD to transplant, aromatic China hybrid Tea species today known as ‘Kangra Tea’ is yearning for its revival.   It was this heritage tea canopy of panoramic bushes spreads across many miles which latter acquired parlance of Kangra tea became renowned worldwide and generations reaped its fruit.    Such was pristine nature of this hill state also called Dev Bhomi that it became so popular for one and half century that it outdo hegemony of Chinese Tea and Tea of North Eastern tea estates of imperial India.    This tiresome journey of 166 yrs heritage brand, currently virtually ailing in ICU, however it was still enjoying support of Tea Board of India.   We would explores how this ailing horticulture venture survives today and threatens with depleting natural resources and lands.    There is a  1500 farmers co-operative society, who  were still keeping this ailing vocation continue.
 One of biggest achievement in the testing time for the farmers is that they succeeded to got patent and registration as a Geographical indicator to Kangra Tea in year 2008.   During the Britishers there was about 5000 hectare area under its cultivation which declined to 2200 hectare similarly the number of farmers which were more than 3000 came down to 1500. Kangra tea was known for its unique aroma, flavor rather than its weak color. After harvesting from the tea garden it was processed to green leaf and black powder tea products. Kangra tea has high economic and medicinal valley as it reduce the oxidants in the body and give refreshing.
Orchards is unique heritage as 150 yrs of plantation are still there in Kangra, Baijnath, Palampur valleys of Kangra district and Jogindernagar district of Mandi district. Despite drastic reduction and land-use change of tea estates and its products  are still popular among tea drinkers in the country and world. It have high demand in neighboring nations like Afghanistan. ‘Marketing of tea entirely depends upon its manufacturing unit and tea factory, once Kangra Tea had four factories but now three were facing lockout only one running unit of Palampur, was supporting growers as it was managed by a cooperative society, Mr Brij Behari Lal Butail who has prominent tea estates owners and president of tea farmers society said. Kangra tea is only surviving for its unique aroma flavor, taste and quality however it is loss making proposition for farmers and traders due to low yield and continue squeezing tea estates he said.  The currently production of tea have came down to about 7 to 8 lakh kilogram which further converted to consumable product of two to three lakh green leaf and four to five lakh kilogram black tea powder.Kangra tea grow from month of February to August and farmers picks its complete foliage twice in the year Speaker said adding that the whole leaf blade is converted into Green tea and broken leaves were used for manufacturing of  black tea after fermentation process.During its processing the harmful enzyme are extracted from the foliage and now it begins its journey to hunt market. First it was transported to North Indian Tea Market at Amritsar from where it was further auction to export outside as it carried to Kolkata .‘Once the Kangra Tea have great demand in middle east, European countries and South East Asia but now at Kolkata it was used to blend with other commercial Tea to add its  flavour and scent for further sell.    Due to receding area of production its yield was rapidly dropping in past few years. Reduction in production also have cascading effect on its remuneration to tea growers. This heritage tea seems to loose its sheen in the market with high cost of production moreover it could not compete with high yielding species and cheaper tea in rest of tea estates in the country and outside. It was Tea Board of India as its branch was located at Palampur came to rescue of farmers five years back assisting them to revive the ailing tea industry. Now efforts are on foot to plant high yield saplings. The  apathy of present generation that youth do not want to adopt tea cultivation as their vocation moreover new saplings take more than six years to develop a new orchard. Tea depends upon the climatic factors which is suitable in this hill state as it require good spell of rainfall round the year and sloppy landscape. The landscapes and valley are always good tea estates as water did not log in its roots. Now CISR institute located near Palampur was providing know and how and supply fresh spellings of high yielding varieties of tea to farmers. Why New generations did not want to work in the tea estates as massive land use have been changed and which made it loss making, Less profiting and uncompetitive business. It is fact that  Kangra tea is yearning for its survival as its production is coming down it was becoming inviable. The scenic beauty of Tea estates also attract large number of tourists towards Palampur and Dharmshala but state government had yet to take steps to link it with tourism and hospitality industry.  

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