The seventh edition of the international tea convention will be held on September 22-24 at Ooty in the picturesque Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu to deliberate on the sustainability of the commodity, a trade body representative said.
“Unlike in the past when such summits were held in metros or cities, the three-day event is being held in the midst of tea plantations at Ooty in Nilgiris to showcase our gardens and promote their varieties for boosting exports,” United Planters’ Association of Southern India (Upasi) president N. Dharmaraj told reporters here.
Forming the southern range of the rich bio-diverse Western Ghats, Nilgiris is the largest tea growing region in south India, which contributed 240 million kg to the country’s production of 1,200 million kg and exported 90 million kg in 2015.
Of the 500 delegates expected, about 250 of them will represent other consuming and producing countries, including Bangladesh, Britain, Egypt, France, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, UAE and the US.
Hosted by Upasi in partnership with the Kolkata-based state-run Tea Board and other associations representing traders and exporters, the convention’s theme is on “Let’s Team up for Sustainability”.
“The tea industry follows sustainable agricultural practices, ethical and fair employee engagement, safety at work place and livelihood of the community,” Dharmaraj said.
Besides inaugural and technical sessions on the first two days, the conclave will focus on the third day boosting exports to traditional and emerging markets though 80 percent of the production caters to the domestic market.
“The commerce ministry has accepted in principle our proposal to promote Indian teas in old and new markets to achieve an export target of 300 million kg over the next 10 years,” said Tea Board official Sujit Patra.
The meet will brainstorm on ways and means to promote domestic tea consumption, especially among youth, through new formats of marketing, including tea cafes, lounges, portals, kiosks in colleges and universities where aerated drinks and cold beverages dominate.
Though China is the largest producer and consumer of green tea, India has been able to penetrate its entrenched market by exporting black tea, as its youth have been taking to its flavours in a big way.
“Indian merchants have shipped 3.93 million kg of black tea to China in 2015, earning an export revenue of Rs.76.43 crore,” said Upasi commodities’ head Sanjit R. Nair.