Small tea maker makes it big in Darjeeling

DARJEELING, India — The heavily potholed dirt road winds through pine forests, quiet hamlets and small tea gardens before bending off in front of the factory at Niroula’s Tea Farm. Nearby, two workers pluck tender green tips — just two-leaves-and-a-bud — of tea, balancing wicker-baskets on their heads and themselves on the sloping ground.

“Twenty years ago, we had potatoes growing here, and maize and other vegetables,” said Bhawesh Niroula of Chota Poobong village, 8 km from Ghoom, India’s highest railway station. “My father changed that.” However, owing to personal hardships, Bikram Niroula had to stop growing tea in 2009.

Five years later, Niroula’s son Bhawesh, who was an electronic engineer with U.S. computer maker Dell in Bangalore, came home for good and restarted the business. He even went a step further, setting up a “mini factory,” the first of its kind in the Darjeeling hills, to process the leaves from his 2.8-hectare garden and those of other small growers like him.

Read the rest of the story here.

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