Tea producers demand 20% subsidy to boost exports

Country's tea exporters are currently enjoying a 4% cash incentive on exporting the item

The Bangladesh Tea Association (BTA) requested the government to provide a 20% subsidy in addition to the existing export incentive facility to boost exports.

The apex body of tea producers recently sought the facility similar to the one given to processed and agricultural products, and urged the authorities to take immediate steps in this regard, said a Commerce Ministry official.

Country's tea exporters are currently enjoying a 4% cash incentive on exporting the item, according to Bangladesh Bank.

The volume of the country's tea export would rise many times if the government provides subsidies and retains the existing export incentive, considering tea as an agro-processing item, industry insiders said.

The tea sector is a prioritized industrial sector under the National Industrial Policy 2016.

Bangladesh produced around 96.51 million kilograms (kg) of tea in 2021 - of which, 90.89 million kgs were consumed locally.

The government has set a target to increase tea production to 140 million kgs by 2025, aiming to meet the country's growing demand and increase its exports, according to the commerce ministry.

The volume of export was 0.60 million tonnes in 2019.

Around 0.5 million workers and their dependents are living in the tea garden areas. Some 167 tea estates and tea gardens are registered with Bangladesh Tea Board.

Domestic demand for tea is rising rapidly due to urbanization.

There is a call for market diversification to increase tea production and to increase the contribution of tea to national export earnings.

The primary importers of tea from Bangladesh were the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, the USA, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Japan and China in January-March 2019.

Once a tea exporter, Bangladesh has recently turned into an importer of the popular commodity.