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16 Jan 2023

Niladry Sarkar, IndiaSpend

India: Major threats like climate change, recession put Darjeeling tea industry at risk, conditions for workers continue to worsen

"Climate Change, Competition From Cheaper Tea Imperil Darjeeling Tea Industry", 16 January 2023

Climate change, recession in global markets, competition from tea varieties from Nepal, and the mismatch between production costs and its price have put the tea industry in Darjeeling at risk, an IndiaSpend ground report from the tea gardens has found.


Change in climate has hit the quality and production of Darjeeling tea. According to a 2013 study by researchers at the Darjeeling Tea Research and Development Centre, climate change reduced production by "41.97% and 30.90% as compared with 1993 and 2002 respectively".


The demand and production of Darjeeling tea has been falling in both domestic and international markets for some time, and experts say the situation turned worse when Russia invaded Ukraine in early 2022.


These challenges for the Darjeeling tea industry have meant that workers' wages and their living conditions have not improved. This, coupled with legacy issues in labour laws and a lack of government support, has led to dissatisfaction among workers at the tea plantations in the area, propagating a negative cycle for the industry.