Eyeing European markets for export and tying up with large format retail stores in India, Amalgamated Plantations Pvt Ltd (APPL), a Tata Enterprise, is trying to capture large part of the Rs 640-crore organic tea market in India.
“The organic tea business is growing by 15 per cent every year. For us, that is the only way to go. In the export market, we are targeting European countries like Germany and Japan besides US and UK,” Deepak Atal, managing director of the second largest tea producer in India, told reporters here today.
In the Indian market, they are tying up with large retail chains like Walmart, Nilgiri and Spencer”s.
“Consumers are now more health conscious than ever before and when we market it rightly with these retail chains, the scope in organic tea market is tremendous,” he said.
In 2011 their Hathikuli Tea Estate spread across 687 hectares in Assam”s Golaghat district near Kaziranga National Park was certified as organic. It was recently awarded at the Sanctuary Asia Wildlife Awards in Mumbai for protecting biodiversity.
“Initially the production fell from 8 lakh kg to 3.5 lakh kg because we were not using fertilizers to control pests. But now the production has started increasing gradually and in the next 2-3 years we will return to the 8 lakh figure,” Atal said.
For marketing in the European market, the tea estate is also in the process of being certified as a Rain-forest Alliance (RA) for its eco-friendly practices.
From the last one year, their two other tea estates in Assam – Diffloo and Teok – have been using only bio- fertilizers.
“But there has been no drop in yield. So from next year we will extend bio-fertilizers to all estates in a phased manner. It will reduce the chemical load on soil and increase its productivity and health in the long term,” the official said.
At present, APPL has 21 tea gardens in Assam and 4 in West Bengal.
Along with tea, they have been growing spices like pepper, ginger, turmeric, etc as multi-crop plantation.
“We are now installing a food processing unit near Guwahati for our agri-business. Some of these products will be sold as our brands while others will be sold to the large retail chains,” Atal said.
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