India signs MoU with Russia to supply tea

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Moscow, Sept 23 (UNI) India and Russia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on deepening the cooperation in the field of tea industry, with the aim of increasing the supply of quality Indian tea to Russia, in the near future.

Basudev Banerjee, the chairman of the Indian Tea Board, and Ramaz Chanturia, the head of the Association of the Russian Tea and Coffee Companies (Roschaikofe) signed the MoU.

Bannerjee is leading a 20-member delegation from Indian tea producers and exporters to conduct talks here to promote the supplies of quality tea to Russia in order to regain the tea market by popularising the different varieties of quality teas with geographical indicators, such as, Nilgiri, Assam and Darjeeling.

India lost the Russian market for tea to Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Kenya, China and Vietnam due to mainly poor quality tea supplies after the collapse of the Soviet Union in early 1990s.

The Tea Board organised a tea testing session at the Moscow's World Trade Centre in which many representatives of Russian tea companies participated.

A selection of 35 varieties of tea from Nilgiri, Assam and Darjeeling were presented at the tea testing session, by the Russian tea testers, some of which were never offered before.

Addressing the business meet, Chanturia said the timing of the visit of the Indian Tea Board delegation was very timely to solve the problems accumulated in the field of tea trade, in the last 15 years.

He said the Indian tea producers and exporters and Russian tea companies were not happy with the situation as the supplies of tea from India declined from 113 million tons in 2000 to 32 million tons in 2005.

''This happened when before the collapse of the Soviet Union, India was the leading exporter of teas to Russia and Russian consumers loved the Indian tea,'' he said.

On his talks with Banerjee, he said we discussed the possibility of improving the Indian tea image and promote the marketing of new varieties of tea which they have never seen in Russia.

In his presentation at the business meet, Bannerjee said the Tea Board was consciously moving towards quality rather than on quantity and volumes.

''We would like better quality, the best Indian teas to be supplied to Russia,'' he said, adding '' Very soon a number of policy decisions will be announced to help our exports to Russia, including joint ventures, in the sphere of tea industry.'' UNI

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