Tea Cluster Development
Under MOVCD-NER scheme, Mission Organic Mizoram(MOM) identified a significant tea belt in the Southern part of Lunglei District, boarder to Myanmar. Villages like Darzo, South Vanlaiphai, Muallianpui and South Lungleng falls under this area which is at an elevation of above 1200 MSL and is a perfect altitude for cultivation of Speciality tea.
The cultivation of Tea under this area dated back in the 1920s at Lungleng by the Chieftain and was dispersed from there. Since then, the area has never been treated with chemicals and fertilizers. The tea trees here are grown naturally from the seed which is very rare in the world as tea is usually cultivated by cloning or cutting. As the tea here has natural adaptation, it is found that the tea here is at perfect health without any serious pest attack. The case had been inspected by Scientist under KVK Lunglei District and experts from tea sector. Currently the area under tea cultivation is as much as 490 Hectares. Though the area coverages is broad, the productivity per Hectare is as low as 800 kgs in a year as they have plucked only once in a year. The farmer’s primary focus is to have large area of land under tea cultivation to produce maximum handmade tea during April and May.
Branding and labelling is an important aspect of marketing. ABPM is creating a brand by developing the brand with the help of experts in the industry. Under MOM, ABPM involved experts like Mr Parag Hatibaruah, Honorary ITMA Certified Tea Master and Mr Dibya Jyoti who has more than 30 years of experience in Tea Garden management.
The villages in this area are all self-sufficient for their own consumption. Only few farmers processed extra produce for marketing. Under MOVCD, it was kept a focus to increase this handmade production and market in bulk and as Speciality tea. Standardization was done by ABPM with the help of training under Mr. Parag (Tea Taster). MOM tries to develop a sustainable value chain for this Handmade production. Bulk purchase (Total 180 kgs @Rs 250 per kg worth Rs 45,000) is done by One Organic Partnership and Zo Colours (proprietorship firm). The farmers also sell the Handmade tea themselves (Approximate 830 kgs @Rs 300 per kg worth Rs 2,49,000) to their link in Aizawl and Lunglei. One Organic Partnership with Mr. Parag is in the process of producing premium handmade tea that will sell in the Domestic metro cities and international market. MOM also spent on publicity and advertisement to promote the cluster, and this helped the farmers in selling their handmade tea and fetching higher price.
The existence of Common Facility Centre helps farmers sell their fresh tea leaves throughout the year. The operations started only from June 2019. The farmers can sell 1 kg of fresh tea leaves at Rs 20 per kg. One farmer can earn as much as Rs 240 (12 kgs average) in a day. The CFC is processing as much as 168 kgs of made tea (which is roughly 840 kgs fresh worth Rs 16,800) within this year. The numbers are still low because the tea leaves are not yet developed as the farmers started fresh only from the year end of 2018 by pruning. It will take at least another 3 years to develop the tea leaves to the level of what is achieved in places like Darjeeling.