Jhapa is Nepal's largest tea-producing district, with numerous tea estates. Thousands of farmers and laborers rely on tea farming for a living. However, local tea producers claim that the government has been deafeningly silent about the sector's challenges.
According to Shiva Kumar Gupta, general secretary of Nepal Tea Producers Association, the government has not provided chemical fertilizers for tea farming since 2021. Nepal earns millions of dollars in foreign currency every year by exporting tea.
Gupta complained that the tea producers had been compelled to import chemical fertilizers adopting illegal ways when the government stopped making its proper arrangement.
Those involved in tea production expressed their ire at the government for showing apathy towards providing chemical fertilizers for tea farming.
The tea producers had asked for the government’s assistance in accessing chemical fertilizers. Chemical fertilizers such as Urea, DAP, Potassium and Ammonia Sulfate are required for tea estate.
Gupta said the government used to distribute fertilizers before 2020. Since then, tea farmers have yet to receive chemical fertilizers on quota.
Tea producers also urged the National Tea and Coffee Development Board to take initiatives to address the issues related to chemical fertilizers. They also asked the agencies, including Agriculture Knowledge Centre, Agriculture Inputs Company and Salt Trading, to coordinate in addressing the gaps.
Gupta said fertilizers could be provided to small tea producers by registering cooperative dealers and to the big tea companies by stipulating quotas through federal or provincial governments.
Tea farming is being done in the district’s 10,500 hectares of land. It needs 1,500 metric tons of chemical fertilizers annually, said the chief of the National Tea and Coffee Development Board, Regional Office, Birtamodh, Indra Adhikari.
The government needed to pay more heed to their demand for chemical fertilizers, commented Joint Secretary of Tea Producers' Association Binaya Kumar Goyal.