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    Tea convention in Assam expected to overturn slide

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    An estimated 350 delegates, including overseas buyers and foreign government representatives, are expected to attend India International Tea Convention in Guwahati, Assam. The three-day global tea party aimed at promoting the beverage will start on November 22.

    “We are expecting government representatives from tea-producing countries like Kenya and Sri Lanka, besides delegates from the UK, the US, Russia, Germany, Egypt and even China for the convention,” , secretary of the Assam chapter of the Indian Tea Association (ITA), the country’s apex tea administration body, told media.

    The convention is being organised jointly by the , ITA, and the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO).

    “We would get a chance to offer a bouquet of both Assam and other varieties of Indian tea before the visiting delegates. This would indeed be a very good platform to attract foreign buyers to help boost tea exports,” the official said.

    Delegates will be interacting with local planters and tea makers from the Singpho tribe in Assam.

    “The tea festival would help increase the exposure of Indian tea to foreign buyers and boost our effort at making India the global hub for sourcing tea,” Assam’s Industry Minister Pradyut Bordoloi said.

    India’s $1.5 billion tea industry has been facing a crisis with prices dropping in the weekly auctions since 1998 and exports too dipping. India has had to cope with tight competition in the global market mainly due to the cheap and inferior quality tea produced by many new tea-growing countries like Cambodia and Bangladesh.

    “Pakistan, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Iran are some of the new markets developing for us,” Kakaty said.

    India has set up a marketing bureau in Tehran and will soon be opening an office in Cairo to promote tea. India is currently the world’s largest tea producer after China with a record crop of 955 million kilograms last year. India exported 200 million kilograms of tea in 2006.