JHAPA, April 18: A huge quantity of green tea leaves has gone to waste in Jhapa due to the nationwide lockdown implemented by the government against the COVID-19 crisis. The loss is around 6 million kilos.
National Tea and Coffee Development Board's tea officer Indra Prasad Adhikari said lockdown imposed during a tea plucking season caused a huge loss to the farmers. The tea leaves have grown up within the garden. ''The loss is equivalent to Rs 120 million if Rs 20 is put for per kilo of tea leaves.''
Similarly, 100 million kilos of tea leaves could not be harvested in other hilly districts such as Ilam, Panchthar and Dhankuta. But the loss was far less than in Jhapa as the harvest in these districts had begun 10 days before the lockdown. In Jhapa, tea is cultivated in 12 hectares of land.
Jhapa chair of Small Farmers Tea Traders Association's Purna Karki said small tea farmers have been hit hardest by the crisis. They have no way except seeing grown-up crops go to waste in the garden. He insisted that they should get compensation from the government for the loss. There are around 3,000 small tea farmers in the district.
Advisor to Tea Manufacturers Association, Chandi Parajuli, shared that the first fold of green tea leaves was damaged 90 percent due to ongoing halt of works in the wake of lockdown. He added that the best quality of the green tea that could be sold at a high price was damaged.
Meanwhile, District Administration Office Jhapa, Tea Manufacturers Association and Workers at the Tea Garden have forged an agreement to resume works in gardens and factories since Sunday with the objective of preventing more loss. They further agreed to adopt safety measures maintaining social distance in works, Parajuli added.
The meeting has further formed a monitoring committee under the convenorship of the National Tea and Coffee Board to observe whether the safety measures were adopted in work. The monitoring team comprises representatives of the Tea Manufacturers Association, Jhapa Chapter of Industry Association, and the Trade Unions.