Showing posts with label business news. Show all posts
Showing posts with label business news. Show all posts

Darjeeling Orange crisis probe

1:16 PM
Writes Vivek Chhetri and Rajeev Ravidas

Darjeeling, Nov. 27: The state government has decided to investigate the recent spate of fungal infection and pest attacks on Darjeeling oranges that dropped the yield of the fruit by more than 50 per cent compared to last year.

State agricultural minister Purnendu Bose who is currently in Darjeeling said: "This is my first official visit to the hills after becoming minister. A team of scientists from Uttar Banga Krishi Visvavidyalaya will probe into the matter (the infection and pest attacks) and based on the report, we will take appropriate steps."

While 2.5 lakh quintals of oranges were produced in the hills last year, this time the yield is expected to be around 90,000 quintals.

Sources said 50 to 60 per cent of oranges in the hills were destroyed after a fungal infection and pest attacks.
Darjeeling Orange
Darjeeling Orange A file photo
The harvest season starts from November end and goes on till mid-January.

M.W. Moktan, a senior scientist and the in-charge of Darjeeling Krishi Vigyan Kendra, a unit of Uttar Banga Krishi Visvavidyalaya, Cooch Behar, spoke about three reasons for the spread of infection and pest attacks in the hill orchards.

"The main reason is that the farmers still practise the traditional method of farming and they are reluctant to adopt new technology. The other reason is that they do not follow proper nutritional management system, which is critical for the health of plants. Climate change, too, has affected the crops," he said.

Moktan, however, said that all was not lost and oranges could be saved if farmers took up modern methods. "Few farmers who have incorporated modern farming methods have not been affected. Disease and pest management must be done properly," he said.

Ram Prasad Sanyal, the assistant director of agriculture department, GTA, had earlier said that a spell of dry weather during the flowering season around March and April was one of the reasons for the drop in orange production.

Today, Bose said: "The agriculture department is acting as a nodal agency in bringing together departments like horticulture and fisheries. In the hills, there are seven seed farms but most are defunct. We plan to revive them. There was an agriculture fair in Kalimpong yesterday and I visited the stalls. While some farmers are trained, many are not. A building of the agriculture department in Kalimpong is lying without use. We will renovate it and start an agricultural training centre there."

Source Telegraph

Hotel Mount Everest (Oberoi) of Darjeeling sold to B.M. Garg.

9:19 AM
Hospitality major EIH Limited, which runs hotels under the Oberoi and Trident brands, has sold its land and property (Hotel Mount Everest) in Darjeeling to a group of local businessmen led by B.M. Garg.
Hotel Mount Everest (Oberoi) of Darjeeling.jpg
Hotel Mount Everest (Oberoi) of Darjeeling.
In its first-quarter results, EIH said it had earned Rs 11 crore from the sale and mentioned it as exceptional item. The sale helped the company to clock an over two-fold growth in profit after tax at Rs 19.86 crore against Rs 6.41 crore a year ago.

"In Darjeeling, what we have sold is primarily land and an old structure," EIH executive vice-chairman S.S. Mukherji said. The Oberoi group held around 5 acres in Darjeeling along with the property. The group had bought the hotel and land in the early 1950s, but it remained idle for over three decades after being damaged by fire. The Oberoi group either had to renovate the property or consider selling it off. Subdued demand in the hospitality sector led to the group choosing the latter option.

"Despite the recent positive aspects designed to stimulate demand, the Indian hotel industry has been facing increased supply of rooms in almost all locations across the country," executive chairman P.R.S. Oberoi told shareholders at the company's annual general meeting today.

B.M. Garg, who owns a multiplex in Darjeeling, said, "No decision has been taken yet. But, the long-term plan is to consider a hospitality project on the land."

Managed properties

P.R.S. Oberoi said the group would focus more on managing properties rather than owning them.

"At the moment, 80 per cent of the properties are owned by us," he said, adding that the ratio could change dramatically in the future.

Meanwhile, the proposed Navi Mumbai hospitality project, which is coming up on the land owned by the Reliance group, a strategic investor in EIH, is stalled on account of environment clearance. "We will start construction once the environmental clearances are in place," EIH managing director and CEO Vikram Oberoi said.

EIH is expanding its presence in the UAE and in Marrakech and Casablanca in Morocco.

Source - Telegraph

India and Nepal cross border trade felicitation seminar to strengthen the relationship

9:41 AM
To strengthen the relationship and to discuss about the issues on the cross border felicitation of export and import between India and Nepal, a seminar was organized by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in association with Consulate General of Nepal at Siliguri last evening.

 India and Nepal cross border trade felicitation seminar held in Siliguri
 India and Nepal cross border trade felicitation seminar 
Prabir Seal Chairman, CII North Bengal, said Cross-border trade through the Kakarivitta-Panitanki trade channel has been flourishing over the years, so has the bilateral economic ties between the two neighboring countries.

CII and FNCCI had formed the Joint Task Force in 1995 and the Task Force report suggested avenues for enhancing foreign trade not only in goods but also included services such as tourism, hydro power, education services, health services etc.

“Change for betterment begins at the grassroots and CII North Bengal in synchronization with the Consulate of Nepal and the support of relevant authorities can facilitate a more robust and vibrant trade relation between India and Nepal aiming at mutual benefits,” he added.

Chandra Kumar Ghimire, Consul General of Nepal, said certain items Nepal has been exporting to India through Kakarvitta-Panitanki are mainly agriculture produces being grown in the eastern part of Nepal. Among the goods, major ones include high value crops such as ginger, fresh vegetables, tea, cardamom, medicinal herbs, aromatic and essential oils, seasonal fruits etc. For last couple of years, such produces need to meet certain compliance at the border point, he added.

When it comes to the border facility placed at Kakarvitta-Panitanki , Panitanki – Siliguri road is now well renovated, once imposed illicit tax over Nepal cargo has been lifted up or removed. The presence of customs’ Assistant Commissioner is available at Panitanki Customs thrice a week. Once complicated procedures required at Banglabandh-Fulbari have been simplified. Yet, some classical hitches are waiting for greater attention to sort them out. At a time when both the governments are discussing over customs modernization, traders speak of lack of lab test facility, insufficient quarantine amenities, distant bank in 7-8 Km, lower threshold allowed in the bank for businesses transaction and scanty parking facility.

Deepening integration to make it a reality for effective business, lowering the cost of doing business, Increasing clarities, transparency, traceability, avoiding red tape by standardizing technology with simplification, harmonization of documents and procedures are key for trade between the two countries to flourish, Ghimire observed.

Source: EOI

Tea union in Darjeeling hills and Terai and Dooars declines the raise of Rs 21

8:24 AM
Siliguri, June 18: Tripartite talks to raise tea workers’ wages in north Bengal today ended inconclusively after the planters’ body proposed a raise of Rs 21 over three years.

Tea workers in the hill tea garden
Tea workers in the hill tea garden
The wage rate, when decided, would be implemented in the Darjeeling hills as well as in plantations in the Terai and the Dooars.

At present, Darjeeling garden workers get Rs 90 a day and the Terai and Dooars hands get Rs 95.

One of the umbrella associations of unions has warned that it would call an industry-wide strike if wages were not raised according to its demand, but there is no unanimity in the strike demand.

Two rounds of tripartite talks were held on February 25 and March 22, but today was the first time the Consultative Committee of Plantation Association — the body of estate owners — proposed a revised wage, a rate which the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union called an “insult to the workers”.

The union is backed by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, the main party in the Darjeeling hills. The Co-ordination Committee of Tea Plantation Workers, an umbrella organisation of several garden unions, said it wanted “fair negotiations” and the planters’ proposal was “unacceptable”.

Chitta Dey, the convener of the committee, said: “On June 21 we will hold a meeting in Chulsa (in the Dooars) and might go for an industry-wide strike.” The joint labour commissioner M.D. Rizwan said the next meeting would be held in a fortnight. Today’s meeting at Uttarkanya was attended by state labour commissioner Javed Akhtar.

The new wage rate would be deemed effective from April 1 this year. Arrears would be paid to the workers for the days they did not get the revised wages since April 1.

Different unions have sought different wage rates.

Samir Roy, the convener of the Defence Committee for Plantation Workers’ Rights, one of the several umbrella groups, said it wanted a daily wage of Rs 338 for tea workers.

“The MGNREGA rate in Bengal is Rs 169 for unskilled workers. For skilled workers, it should be double, that is Rs 338 per day. We want wages at the same rate for tea workers,” Roy said.

Aloke Chakraborty, the working president of Trinamul Tea Plantation Workers’ Union, said it wanted the wages to be Rs 206 a day. The Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union has also asked for the same rate.

The minimum wage rate for Bengal is Rs 206.

“We want minimum wages to be paid to tea workers. We have heard that some of the trade unions have threatened to go on strike. We would like to assert that our trade union is against strikes in the industry and would strive to keep the situation normal,” Chakraborty said.

Planters’ representatives cited adverse conditions in the industry for the Rs 21 wage raise over three years. “Our proposal was based on the realistic assessment of the industry. The crops are down because of inclement weather and there has been a rise in the cost of production,” said Prabir Bhattacharjee, secretary general of the Tea Association of India.

Source: Telegraph

Sikkim and Darjeeling most preferred for summer vacation this year

9:16 AM
Sikkim and Darjeeling in the east and Ladakh in the north have emerged as the most preferred places where city residents are planning to spend their summer vacation. Although schools will close after one and a half months, people are already planning their holidays.

Sikkim and Darjeeling most preferred for summer vacation this year
Sikkim and Darjeeling most preferred for summer vacation this year

In fact, low-cost tickets on most of the flights to Ladakh and Kashmir in June and July have already been sold, as per Bijender from private travel firm ‘Make my trip’.

“Anyone who wants tickets in that period will now have to pay much more. For example, the one-way fare for Leh in February and mid-March was Rs 11,500. Now, it has shot up to Rs 18,000,” said Bijender.
Other destinations favoured by city residents to get away from the summer heat are Sikkim and Darjeeling. “We have been receiving lots of enquiries for Sikkim and Darjeeling. Most of the flight seats in the months of June and July have already been booked,” said a travel agent.

For those who can’t afford high air fares, package tours still remain attractive. A five-night, six-day package for Darjeeling in the month of June is a major hit and a travel agency is offering this package for Rs 31,999, which includes accommodation, meals and transport, along with the tour escort.

But the cost of packages has also increased with increasing demand. For example, a five-night, six-day package of Munnar and Ooty, which was sold for around Rs 29,000 in the month of February, now costs Rs 35,000.

Owing to the heavy demand for some of the destinations, certain travel agencies are planning to introduce chartered fights. Among these is a travel agency in Sector 34 which is planning to start chartered flights to Leh.


Darjeeling tea - Fair trade but unfair wage

11:29 PM
As the first flush of prized Darjeeling tea nears harvest this spring, workers on Darjeeling's fair-trade tea plantations are still waiting for a fair deal, says a University of Michigan anthropologist. 

poor condition of Darjeeling tea workers
Poor condition of Darjeeling tea under paid workers
"Darjeeling's tea industry is in the midst of what most connoisseurs and market watchers would consider to be a revival, driven in part by fair trade," said Sarah Besky, assistant professor of anthropology and natural resources and environment, who has spent years studying the lives of tea workers in this remote region of northeastern India, nestled in the Himalayan foothills. 

"But ironically, fair trade and other programs that purport to provide justice to plantation workers in the age of global 'ethical consumption' are not having much effect in providing justice to the tea pluckers, who are mainly Indian Gorkha women." 

In the US, the most-prized first-flush tea leaves—designated SFTGFOP, meaning "Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe"—sell for more than $60 for eight ounces, when you can get them. But the field workers who pick the delicate leaves earn just over a dollar for a full day's work. 

"Women in Darjeeling are keenly aware of the irony that they produce some of the world's most expensive tea yet get paid a miniscule fraction of what this tea fetches abroad," said Besky, who lived on the tea plantations talking with workers, plantation owners and area activists for months at a time from 2007 through 2010. She is the author of "The Darjeeling Distinction: Labor and Justice on Fair-Trade Tea Plantations in India," published by the University of California Press. 

Established in the 1850s by the British, Darjeeling's "tea gardens" are now owned by Indians who continue to operate them as plantations. Workers live in houses provided by their employers and are given allowances for food and certain household necessities—all in partial payment of wages. 

"Fair-trade plantation may seem like an oxymoron," Besky said. "Plantation workers are not small farmers. They are laborers who, like peasants, live and work on land they do not own."
Besky discusses the impact of fair trade and other movements that brought Darjeeling tea plantations into the 21st-century market for geographically distinguished and ethically sourced food, and into India's multiethnic democracy. 

These movements have World Trade Organization Geographical Indication status, a distinction Darjeeling shares with famous place and food names like Scotch, Champagne, and Roquefort, and the Gorkhaland agitation, a longstanding movement to form an Indian state separate from West Bengal, to include Darjeeling, its tea plantations and its majority of Indian Nepalis, or Gorkhas. 

"There is a deep disconnect between national, global and regional calls for justice, and the lives and work of the very people in whose names those calls have gone forth. The workers are keenly aware that in the market for justice, the tea plantation is not going anywhere."


Darjeeling tea gets GI (Geographical Indicator) status

7:16 PM
Government has granted Geographical Indicator (GI) status to around 57 agricultural products such as Darjeeling tea, Pokkali rice and Dharwad Pedha in the last ten years. 

India enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999, which came into effect on September 15, 2003. The GI label certifies not only the geographical origin of a product but also confirms adherence to some production standards. 

Darjeeling tea gets GI (Geographical Indicator) status
Darjeeling tea gets GI (Geographical Indicator) status
So far, 195 GIs have been registered with the GI Registry of India and of these, approximately 57 GIs are related to agriculture and manufactured food such as tea, coffee, mangoes, oranges, grapes, sweets and savoury snacks, the official said. 

Kalanamak Rice from Uttar Pradesh was given the GI status early in this financial year, the official added. 

Major farm products that enjoy GI status include: Darjeeling Tea, Kangra Tea, Coorg Orange, Mysore Betel leaf, Nanjanagud Banana, Mysore Jasmine, Navara Rice, Palakkadan Matta Rice, Malabar Pepper, Allahabad Surkha, Monsooned Malabar Arabica and Robusta Coffee, Coorg Green Cardamom, Eathomozhy Tall Coconut, Dharwad Pedha, Pokkali Rice, Laxman Bhog Mango and Naga Mircha, among others. 

Besides farm products, handcrafts and manufactured goods are also given the GI tag. Even foreign products from various countries have been accorded GI status under the Indian act. 

Some of the major foreign GIs include Peruvian Pisco, French Cognac and Champagne, American Napa Valley, Porto and Douro wines from Portugal, Mexican Tequila and Italian Parma, the official added.

Source: business-standard

Darjeeling Industrial Potential

12:06 PM
Potential industries in Darjeeling have been categorized in three groups namely:


Food Processing» Darjeeling district alone produces approximately 90,000 tonnes of Pineapple, 20,000 tonnes of Oranges, 80,000 tonnes of Tomato per annum. Besides as much as 6,00,000 nos. of Oranges per day are available in peak season from Sikkim. These huge resources of raw fruits justifies setting up of an integrated plant for producing various items like Orange Squash, Orange Marmalade, Tomato Sauce, Vinegar, Juice, Pineapple rings, Frozen fruits etc.

Darjeeling Industrial Potential

Floriculture» Existing production of 60 MT of flowers in Darjeeling district and 20 MT available from Sikkim can easily be exploited. Besides flower cymbidiums, cypripedium and other orchards, cactuses, bulbs, gladiolie etc., which are in huge demand, are available in abundance. Tissue culture also has tremendous prospects. 

Pharmaceuticals» Darjeeling has the potential to come up as one of the most promising area for production of phytochemical and pharmaceutical products. Apart from the present exploitation of Chnchona bank for quinine and ipecac root for emetine, the following items have been identified:

Raserpin from Rauvolfia, Contraceptive pills and hormones from Dioscorea. Cardia glycosides from Digitalis, Alkalloids from Ergot, Atropine and Scopolamine from Daturas, Lemongrass oil, Palmarosa oil , Khas Khas Oil, Citronella Oil , Vinca Rosia.

The West Bengal Photochemical and Pharmaceutical Development Corporation has already been running one profit making unit in Toralpara in Jalpaiguri. The Forest Department of West Bengal has been producing 50,000 litres of Citronella oil per annum in Sukna Distillation Plant. The medicinal plants do not need big plots of land for their cultivation. They can well grow in forest, tea gardens and in other farming lands. Ginger products manufacturing, extraction of papein from papaya are other very lucrative possibilities. Darjeeling produces nearly 4,000 tonnes of ginger per annum most of which is sent out side the district without any processing.

Wood based industries» Large forest cover with abundant supply of wood, bamboo, cane etc. provides excellent opportunity for setting up of industries for manufacture of plywood, veneer, particle board from wood dust, wooden furniture, wood charcoal, cane furniture etc. 
Sericulture» Climate of Darjeeling district id ideally suited for mulberry cultivation, which does not require larger pieces of land. Further processing of cocoons at local level will ensure high value addition thereby increasing its acceptability amongst small farmers. 

Rubber Plantation» Darjeeling district also has ideal conditions for rubber plantation. Setting up of a rubber unit having its own rubber plantation will also encourage the small farmers of surrounding area to take up this activity and sell the rubber milk to the rubber unit.
Mining» A proven reserve of lead zince deposit of 3.256 million tonne with averager metal content of 8% upto a depth of 250 mtrs. In Goroubathan may be commercially exploited after a feasibility study in this regard. 

Natural caffeine is produced from tea wastes, which can be encouraged for commercial exploitation.

Animal resource based industries» Huge cattle population in Darjeeling provides and opportunity for a systematic approach for collection and processing of milk. Hides and skins, which are easily available, can be used to promote leather industry. Handicrafts based leather products exploiting traditional expertise have ready market due to tourist traffic large urban population also provides in opportunity for promotion of other animal resource based activities like poultry, dickery, piggery, and goatery.


In keeping with the rising demand of cheap protein, Darjeeling district has been nurturing a number of buttom and oyster mushroom farms quite successfully. These farms require a little amount of land and local entrepreneurs are quite well equipped with the technology. The industry has excellent export potential as well.

Dust free and cool regions of Darjeeling could be utilized for promotion of Electronic and Software industry. Some tea industry based Electronic appliances identified by West Bengal Electronic Industry Development Corporation are, namely, Digital Thermometer, Electronic Pressure Gauge, Electronic Hygrometer, Sequential Timber, Electronic Thermometer, Automatic Temperature Controlling system, Multiple Peripheral Controller, Moisture Meter, Automatic Weighing system, Electronic Colour sawing system, Electronic Image Processing system.

The Concept of DTP (Desk Top Publishing) which has revolutionized the printing technology the world over, has opened a whole new world of innovative designing and publishing for the people engaged in printing, writing, designing, visualizing, advertising, commercial art etc. The burgeoning urban population in Siliguri, Kurseong, Kalimpong and Darjeeling is expected to make increasing demand on such sophisticated electronic media of printing.

TV Set Assembling TV Antenna Manufacturing has already seen quite a considerable number of profit making industrial enterprises in and around Siliguri. Similar enterprises could be set up in Darjeeling, K

Bio-fertilizer units have tremendous potential in view of adverse effects of chemical fertilizers on the quality fo tea in particular and other agricultural produce in general. There is also a possibility for processing the urban waste into organic manure which shall find ready market in the tea and other plantations. Siliguri Municipal Corporation area alone produces about 200 MT of garbage daily.

Household consumables and consumer durables both can be produced at Siliguri in view of large distribution network which can be used for marketing of these products in eastern India.
As a result of growth of small and medium industry around Siliguri there is a possibility of setting up of units for manufacturing of industrial spares, consumables, lubricants, automobile spares and other such articles of replaceable nature.


The artisans of these districts create exquisite varieties of ornaments, carpets, household articles, handicrafts, and other articles, which are widely acclaimed. The traditional cottage industries also include woolen garments, and cane and bamboo work. These cottage and handicraft industries however need proper marketing support through purchase, organising of handicraft exhibitions, formation of societies and guilds etc.


Darjeeling needs wayside resorts at places like Sukna, Mirik, Teesta, Malli, Kurseong etc. where travelers could halt for brief rest and refreshment.
Big size highway hotels, catering to corporate conference and seminars are required for attracting business travel.

The existing and proposed hotels and extend their services to the local clientele and weekend tourists through swimming pools, Golf courses, family resorts, hut clusters etc.
Organisation of craft meals, local folk cultural meets, flower shows, Himalayan Car Rally etc. at a fixed time in the year preferably in March, April and May by the resorts themselves would attract visitors from all over the country.

Conversion of depressions, marshy land etc. into shallow waters for attracting migratory birds and construction of small resorts and catering facilities around these sites will attract local parties, wedding, school children and weekend tourists.

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