By Behlul Cetinkaya
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA) – Turkey’s state-run tea company opened a factory in northern Pakistan on Monday.
The General Directorate of Tea Enterprises (Caykur) opened its factory in the Mansehra region, around 200 kilometers from the capital Islamabad.
Attending Monday’s opening ceremony were Caykur Chairman Imdat Sutluoglu as well as Yusuf Zafar, the head of Pakistan’s Agricultural Research Council, and Farrukh Hamid, the head of Pakistan’s National Tea and High Value Crops Research Institute.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Sutluoglu said that the factory would have a daily production capacity of five tons.
Although Pakistanis consume a lot of tea, they are importing tea, he said, adding that the idea of opening a factory came from Pakistan itself.
According to official data, Pakistan spent over 23 billion Pakistani rupees (around $220 million) on tea imports during the first six months of 2017.
Over the past two decades, the country’s tea imports have ballooned over 325 percent.
Sutluoglu said that the facility would make a great contribution to the development of tea farming in Pakistan.
“This plant is a small gift from Turkey to Pakistan,” he added.
– Moving to self-production
He said that Turkey is ready to support Pakistan on tea saplings as well.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Hamid said that Pakistan is a big tea market, as it imports tea from 16 countries.
Zafar said that for years Pakistanis thought foreign teas were better but “we need to get used to our own products.”
“As Turkey has been producing its own tea for the last 90 years, we should come to this level too,” he added.
He said that the factory would help develop Pakistan’s tea industry.
After the opening ceremony, high-quality tea saplings brought from Turkey were planted in the factory garden.
Last August, Turkey donated an automatic tea-processing plant to Pakistan to support high-tech tea cultivation.
Caykur exported tea to 110 countries in 2017, Sutluoglu told reporters earlier this year.
He said Caykur is involved in 38 countries in Europe, 37 in Africa, 15 in Asia, 14 in the Mideast, and six in the Americas.
Caykur, founded in 1983, is a state-owned enterprise, and its processed-tea products include white, green, black, organic, leaf, and iced tea. It employs more than 10,600 people in its 56 factories.