At $35 a kg, Assamese man's organic tea takes foreign markets by storm
His first batch of handmade, organic tea to be exported was in 2007 to Canada. What started as a 50-60 kg consignment rose to 150 kg in 2011 and this year he has an order from Canada alone for 300 kg organic tea.
There are demands from other countries like Japan and Egypt. It's also sold in the domestic market, and Hazarika makes it a point to visit auctions and trade fairs to further popularise his product. Hazarika's annual production is 4,000 kg, 80 percent of which is exported. He wouldn't give out his annual earnings but said his green tea is sold for around Rs.2,000 per kilo and black tea at Rs. 1,600 per kilo in foreign shores, while in India it's sold at Rs. 1,200 and Rs.1,000 respectively. It is marketed as Madhupur tea, named after the village his garden lies.
Hazarika produces his tea in his mud hut, which serves as his "factory" beside his lush tea garden near Lakhmipur in lower Assam. It does seem rather odd in the face of today's latest technologies, of big machines in even bigger factories that seem to do all the hard work with mechanical ease.What seems even more ancient are his tools for processing the tea - a bigger form of a mortar and pestle (called Dheki in Assamese) in wood, a large frying pan (called Kodai) and cane sieves.
"I make tea the traditional way, using tools that are available in every household in Assam. I use absolutely no pesticides in the garden and the end produce is plain and simple organic tea, either green or black orthodox," Hazarika, who is in his 40s, told IANS.
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