Nepali Times
Everyone's cup  of tea


Earlier stereotyped only as tea pickers, women like Kalpana Rai ( pictured above) are rising up the ranks in Nepal's tea industry.
Kalpana Rai prepares tea cups for tasting at the Jun Chiyabari Tea Estate in Hile. Outside, the mist rolls up hillsides draped with lush tea gardens. The steam rises as Rai pours hot water into a cup, takes a sip, and smiles. "I like this one," Rai tells her boss. Supervisor Morris Orchard nods in agreement as he rolls the brew around in his mouth.

Earlier stereotyped only as tea-pickers, women like Kalpana Rai are rising up the ranks in Nepal's tea industry. Jun Chiyabari and other tea estates in eastern Nepal are at the forefront of those offering new opportunities for women.

"We went one step ahead and appointed women workers into supervisory levels, not only in the field but also at the factory," explains Lochan Gyawali whose family started Jun Chiyabari 10 year ago. The tea factory now has several women in supervisory roles.

Kalpana Rai is modest young woman, and an undergraduate in business management. She shrugs off the attention. "There aren't many options for us in Hile," she says, "I feel I'm lucky."

But it's more than luck that has allowed women to get ahead, says Archana Karki of Empowering Women of Nepal (EWN). "Nepal is still a conservative patriarchal society," Karki explains, "there are many rules that constrain women to stay in the home and work in the family house and fields."

Rai, who studied at Mahendra Multiple Campus in Dharan, works as the company's record keeper while studying for her masters degree. Rai's colleagues express the same optimism about their jobs, how it has meant they haven't had to migrate for work to support their families.

"I enjoy my job and the people I work with here," says Renuka Thakuri, 40, who supervises the tea sorting section of the factory and has been with Jun Chiyabari since it started.

Nearly 80 per cent of the 236-strong work force at Jun Chiyabari is made up of women. A dozen women in scarves sit together on a wooden floor in a circle, examining leaves that are just about ready for packaging. Some laugh, others chat while working. They are sifting through thousands of leaves to find and remove any that are damaged or flawed. The process needs deft fingers and concentration.

Jun Chiyabari's owners say they consider women critical to the operations, and have equalised earnings for men and women. Says Gyawali: "Just because you have XY chromosome doesn't mean you should have a different wage level."

By sunset, the leaves collected by the women are delivered to the factory's attic and spread out on drying plates to sit overnight and develop a rich aroma. The finished tea is packaged and sent to customers around the world as organic Himalayan tea, plucked and perfected by the women of Nepal.

Missionary zeal, MICHAEL COX
Ilam tea goes green, PRANAYA SJB RANA in ILAM
Promoting Nepali tea through tourism, PESHAL POKHREL in DHANKUTA

1. Kazuko

It is quite nice and interesting story about tea.

I also want to have cup of Jun Chiyabari Tea and remeber the women

who works at the tea estate.

A cup of tea makes everybody happy!!




These activity to equalize the oppotunity of work between man and woman is very important. I visited many tea estates in South Asia and take higher of Junchiyabari way very much. As a tea buyer in Japan, we would like to buy the tea from those who engage in social problem like Junchiyabari.

3. Mayoor Japan
Hello dear Mr Lochan Gyawali,I was really very happy to read your article and how your tea garden is involved promoting nepal tea in the international market and improving the working standards for womens in the tea estates,I feel everyone is made equals and there shouldn't
be any wage different for the same work,I wish you from my heart and god bless you in this faithful work.

4. Karen Haines, NZ
Delighted to see that equal opportunities for women are being observed on this tea estate. I'm sure that for companies like Jun Chiyabari the benefits of this kind of forward thinking will have had both immediate and long term positive ramifications for the day to day running of the business, and contributes to the social credibility of their international image as well.

5. Dr. Nalinee Taveesin, Thailand
It is highly commendable that Junchiyabari has taken the higher ground and is empowering women and allowing gender equality in the work place, while expanding in the international market. This topic is much talked about in the global sphere, but not too many businesses are able to handle it this way. Apart from this, having tasted tea from this estate, I must say that as a staunch tea drinker, the quality is second to none. I wish Thailand had some available!

6. Ken Ohashi
Dear Lochan:  It has been over 5 years since I visited Jun Chiyabari, which remains one of my family's fondest memories from Nepal.  I am so happy to see that the estate has continued to grow, not just in terms of the quality of tea it produces, but also in its enlightened ways of working.  I suppose they are not unrelated.  (We economists have long argued that gender equity is good for economy.)  As you know, I still start every morning with a big mug of your tea, even though I now live on a different continent.  After reading this article, I am sure the tea will taste even better!

7. Hanny Guimaraes
Greetings from Brazil!
I'm really happy for read this article and know the wonderful work made in Jun Chiyabari. 

This article show me more than a great tea production... I see how brilliant tea farmers can make a difference, can make a better comunity, a better place for the people of Nepal.

I'm glad to see the women so strong and delicate. Happy with your jobs and hopeful about the future, studying and supporting your families. I look like a feminist saying this words, but I mean that delicacy and strength of these women help to make a good tea. I believe that!

Congratulations for the article, Jana, showing us this amazing story of estate.


8. Klaus
Thank you for the nice tea. now it even tastes better! We in Germany love the from jun chiyabari :-)

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)