The companies have decided to go in for aggressive promotional campaigns of the Darjeeling orthodox tea.
This will be along the lines of the existing Project India blend , which is created by such a combined corporate effort and marketed in Russia. But this time, the consortium would not produce a common blend of the Darjeeling variety, since most of the gardens are at various heights and yield different blends.
The project has been undertaken due to the stagnating growth of the Darjeeling variety. Also, the companies are facing increasing difficulties in individually marketing the teas.
Besides, a consortium would reduce the marketing costs involved in increased marketing of the Darjeeling brand.
It is believed that almost 40 million kgs of tea are sold in the world in the name of Darjeeling tea, although the real amount figures a constant 10 million kgs available from India only.
A proposal for the formation of the consortium has been submitted to the Tea Board recently.
In the proposal, it has been felt that national branding of the Darjeeling orthodox is essential along with its logo.
The members of the consortium would each pick up the tab for a part of the spending on promotional campaigns, which would involve, among other moves, setting up of stalls at important sites like airports, terminals and tourist spots.
Measures to combat such a situation are being taken to tackle a stagnant growth of 10 million kilograms for several successive years. The yield of the Darjeeling hills is about 600 kg per hectare. Planters here have been hit of late by high costs of production.
Some of the over century-old bushes have had to be replanted or rejuvenated continuously. The cost of uprooting is estimated as high as Rs 1.5 lakh per hectare.
Also plaguing the industry is the lack of proper irrigation schemes during winter months, which retards the growth of the first and second flushes.
Only an estimated 32 out of 85 estates have access to water resources during dry months this restricts their irrigation to just a third of the planted area.