Something sweet is brewing

Indian Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj, BCCI President Tandin Wangchuk and Bhutanese tea/coffee importers

Bhutan and Indian counterparts meet to promote and share their common love for tea and coffee

SANGAY RABTEN

Thimphu

Bhutanese tea and coffee importers interacted with their Indian counterparts this week to sweeten up our common love for the age-old concoctions.  

The two parties met virtually to learn about production and export of coffee and tea products.

According to Bhutanese counterparts, with development and exposure, the trend of coffee and tea consumption in the country is increasing. Indian tea and coffee are well known in the country.

The meeting was also aimed at expanding India’s exports of tea and coffee to Bhutan.

Speaking at the event, Ambassador of India to Bhutan, Ruchira Kamboj, said, “India is Bhutan’s largest trading partner. Indian tea and coffee are already popular in Bhutan, however, there is even greater scope for promoting these commodities in the Bhutanese market introducing some new brand.”

She added that through this meeting and greater interactions, the Indian exporters will be able to penetrate the Bhutanese market better for mutual benefit of both sides.

“Bhutanese markets are comparatively small but people are conscious of quality,” the Ambassador said, adding the Embassy will look at new collaborations and engagement of delegations.

Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry President, Tandin Wangchuk shared during the meeting that there is a huge scope in promoting bilateral trade between the two countries, and creating a long-term business chain.

From the meeting he said that it will provide better understanding between two countries to promote trade activities. The President requested the Indian tea and coffee producers and exporters to appoint formal agent in Bhutan.

He said, “Having a formal agent would help in getting tea and coffee at appropriate price.”

Fostering the long term relation, he said that the delegations will have better understanding and that BCCI will look forward to send Bhutanese delegation in Indian tea and coffee firms.

The Deputy Chairman of Tea Board of India Dr K.N. Raghavan said there is need to explore new market with value added service.

“I’m in the Association. Our members are tea companies who produce tea & some of them are exporters. I have already forwarded the list of exporters to EoI and waiting to hear from them about the buyers,” Raghavan said.

In an exclusive interview with Bhutan Times, the Secretary of Indian Tea Association, Sijit Patra said the members from his association are looking forward to hear from Bhutanese buyers.

He said, “We have suggested to Embassy of India that once pandemic is over, exporters want to visit Bhutan and physically meet buyers, packeters, stores et al.”

He also said that tea has lot of scientifically proved health properties which consumers are unaware and if this is properly brought to them will mutually benefit both sides.

With the fundamental ingredients of numerous tea, it has health benefit for anti-aging, antioxidant, reducing blood lipid, reducing blood sugar, prevent cancer, anti-inflammatory, adjust immunity, anti-radiation, anti-virus, enhance memory, anti-depression and other benefits.  

The owner of Jardine Henderson Limitted in Kolkata, Shelly Mehta said that it would be better if Bhutanese delegations visits their company.

From among the Bhutanese participants, the owner of Mountain Café, Paro, Karma Chimi said that the plantation of tea and coffee in southern Bhutan do not meet requirement with the growing trend in the country. He opined that he would like to connect with Indian suppliers for importing, packaging, plantation and processing. 

During the business networking session, questions and ideas were exchanged between the two parties and Indian exporters showed willingness to support importers in processing and packaging.

Tandin Wangyel running a café in outskirt of Thimphu city, said that the buyer-seller meet was right platform to learn and it was eye-opening. “We are looking forward to develop partnership.”

Running a new café, Kinzang Pelzom said that from the shared ideas during the meeting it would help to connect with Indian coffee and tea suppliers.

Tashi Wangdi, running a Russian café, with no or limited coffee production in Bhutan working linking with Indian partners would benefit both sides.

According to the Indian Embassy press release, in the past two years, Bhutan imports increased by almost 50 percent from 379 metric tonnes in 2019 worth Nu 77 million to 554MT in 2020 worth Nu 131 million.

The event was organised by the Indian Embassy in Thimphu (Bhutan) in collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India.

Other prominent entities like the Tea Board India, Coffee Board India, Indian Tea Association (ITA), and Indian Chamber of International Business (ICIB) also attended the virtual Buyer-Seller Meet (BSM).