Saturday, February 11, 2012

Nepal Revolution

There is a sound of revolution in the hills of east Nepal and it comes from the small engine mounted on the back of farmer(s).

Unlike violent revolutionaries who invariably seem to turn venal, this radical literally put his money where his mouth is and is conducting a bloodless revolution. Bloody revolutions promise a lot but deliver nothing but sorrow and pain but this revolution will enhance the income and dignity of many tea farmers and in process improve the quality of tea.

Gyani Katuwal, a farmer of meager means and little education took a great gamble and spent a substantial portion of his income to buy a mechanical tea plucker so that he could counter the very low labour productivity and the constant humiliation at the hands of tea plucking labourers.

He even faced ridicule amongst his peers but stuck to his guns. He is the first farmer in Nepal to use a mechanical tea plucker and is better off for it. His plucking standard has gone up; his expenses has gone down (by 96%); the plucking productivity has gone through the stratosphere (by 4,500%) and he has more free time and most importantly he does not suffer constant indignity at the hands of highly politicised, unproductive and capricious tea pluckers.

I salute you Gyani. May there be others like you in Nepal. You have shown that you do not need a Ph.d or an MBA to make intelligent and wise choice. You are a true hero and an inspiration.


  1. Lochan, is good to know your opinion. Let me understand the situation... Most of labour in Nepal, in tea gardens, are made by hand, right? This guy are doing in the other way... He's plucking with a mechanical tea plucker. What is the difference between the two methods? I was think that the finest way to plucking was by hand... Was more selective process and better to the beverage. Is this thoughts wrong? The traditional method should be revised?

    Thank you for putting the subject in the front line. Is good for the market discuss this kind of theme.

    Kisses from Brazil

  2. Hello Hanny,

    Most of the plucking is still by hand. That is still the best way for the best quality teas. However in recent years due to shortage of tea plucking workers the quality of plucking has gone down. So much so that in many factories they do not get 2 leaf and a bud anymore. They get more like 4-5 leaves and even whole branches. The workers do not care anymore and this is totally out of control. If the factories try to control this quality they workers stop working! Of course in the best gardens this does not happen but I am talking about the factories producing medium quality teas that usually gets blended.

    So mechanical plucker is probably the best way to arrest the falling plucking standards. At least there will be uniform plucking and in improvement in quality in general. That means the average quality goes up while the already high quality continues to stay up or does better because the pluckers then can concentrate on the really high quality fine plucking while the machine can do the medium qualities teas.