ILAM, June 26: Tea entrepreneurs of Suryodaya municipality in the district have announced to close the tea factories, saying they could not provide minimum wages to workers as determined by the local government. Arguing they could not make any income from tea business if they provide the minimum wage determined by the local government, they warned of shutting down the factories from Thursday.
The tea factories associated with Suryodaya Tea Association said they had not got any support from the government side, so had the compulsion to invest themselves. Issuing a press release, the tea entrepreneurs said they had been facing problems as they were not able to return investment. A certain level of quality should be maintained in tea by the tea farmers, collectors and industrialists, according to a procedure endorsed by a meeting attended by tea industrialists and farmers.
Udaya Chapagain, former president of the Himalayan Orthodox Tea Producers Association, said minimum wages set by the municipality could not be implemented as it is. "Neighbouring countries have a provision of their government to bear 15 to 20 percent production cost. When our government will create such an environment," he asked.
Tea sector could not improve until the government facilitated farmers and tea estates to produce and find the market for their products, he said. He further shared that the country has 108 big tea industries and gardens across the country (including 16 in Ilam, 69 in Jhapa and 6 in Dhankuta districts) according to Nepal Tea and Coffee Development Board.