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Tuesday, 9 July, 2002, 09:49 GMT 10:49 UK
Tea comes to the boil in Pakistan
Agricultural Development Bank of Pakistan
The Development Bank will provide loans
Pakistan's farmers are being encouraged to stop growing wheat and vegetables and plant the potentially more lucrative tea crop instead.

The country is one of the world's largest importers, spending approximately $300m (195m) a year in hard currency to buy tea.

There is no history of tea-cultivation in Pakistan, which depends on Kenya, Sri Lanka and India to satisfy its 145 million inhabitants.

But in an attempt to save money, the country recently established the National Tea Research Institute (NTRI) to persuade farmers to change their habits.

The institute has set-up Pakistan's first tea factory at Shinkiari, 90 kilometres north of Islamabad.

The Chinese-built plant was inaugurated by President Pervez Musharraf in September last year.

Modest start

The factory is expected to produce eight million kilograms of black tea this year, which is modest by international standards, but a big step forward for NTRI.

The institute's scientific officer Mushtaq Ahmad said the main incentive was to save the country's foreign reserves.

He insisted that there was great potential for tea growers, with large areas of land suitable for cultivation.

He told the BBC's World Business Report that there were strong incentives on offer to the farmers:

  • the free provision of 5,000 plants
  • free fertiliser
  • free insecticides
  • technical assistance
  • a loan facility from the Agricultural Development Bank of Pakistan

The authorities also hope that more tea grown in Pakistan will discourage smuggling from India - usually through a third country such as Afghanistan.

See also:

03 Apr 02 | Business
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05 Mar 02 | Business
29 Jan 02 | Business
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