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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Better prices than the sea borne tea via Bandar Abbas


Indian

tea traders have probably been the greatest sufferers in consequence of their rash ventures, and they will probably suffer even more in the future if they do not exercise greater caution in ascertaining beforehand the suitable markets for their teas and the actual cost of transport to the markets selected. Several traders have brought very large caravans of Indian tea to Sistan on various occasions, believing that they had arrived at the end of their journey, and, after having paid the heavy duty imposed upon goods introduced into the country, have found before them the option of going the 600 miles back to Quetta or continuing at great expense, _via_ Bam to Kerman, a long journey with doubtful results at the end; or of going to Birjand, Meshed, Teheran, where they have eventually been compelled to sell at a loss or to pay the additional Russian duty and send the tea on to Moscow.

The Persian market is at present very much blocked up with Indian teas, and great caution should be exercised by intending exporters from India. In time to come, when good roads have been made in every direction, or railways constructed, and cost of transport greatly minimised, Persia will be, I think, a considerable buyer of Indian teas; but as matters are to-day the expense of conveying the tea to the various Persian markets, especially by the land route, is too great to make any profit possible at the very low prices paid by the Persians for tea.

justify;">Tea exported overland to the Meshed market (not to Sistan) realised, before the market became overstocked, better prices than the sea-borne tea _via_ Bandar Abbas. It is certain that the delicate aroma of tea is not improved by being exposed to the warm sea air, no matter how carefully it has been packed. And as Major Webb-Ware, the political agent at Chagai, points out, tea despatched by the land route direct from the gardens or from Calcutta is not liable to the numerous incidental charges, commissions and transhipments which are a matter of course upon teas sent _via_ Bandar Abbas or other Persian Gulf ports.

The demand for unspoiled teas brought overland is considerable in Russia and all over Europe, even more than in Persia, and when a sensible understanding has been arrived at with Russia to let Indian teas proceed in transit through that country, there is no reason why the better Indian teas should not favourably compete all over Europe with the China caravan teas.

The Persian market, to my mind, speaking generally, will only be able to purchase the inferior teas, the Persians as individuals being comparatively poor. Superior teas in small quantities, however, may find a sale at good prices among the official classes and the few richer folks, but not in sufficient quantities to guarantee a large import. The same remarks, I think, would apply to teas finding their way into Western Afghanistan from various points on the Sistan-Meshed route.

The Indian tea-traders have shown very commendable enterprise in attempting to push their teas by the overland route, and trying to exploit the new markets which the Nushki-Meshed route has thrown open to them, but their beginning has been made too suddenly and on too large a scale, which I fear will cause a temporary loss to some of them. A gradual, steady development of the tea trade is wanted in Persia, not a rush and violent competition flooding the market with tea that has to be sold at a loss. When the natives all over Persia have by degrees got accustomed to Indian tea, and when it is brought in at a cheap price, Indian teas are likely to be popular in Persia.

[Illustration: The Wall of Sher-i-Nasrya at Sunset.]

I may be wrong, but, to my mind, the greater profits on Indian teas brought by this route will in the future be made not in Persia itself, but in Transcaspia, Turkestan, Russia and Central Europe, where people can pay well for a good article. Great credit should be given to the Indian and Dehra Dun Tea Associations for despatching representatives to study the requirements of the Persian market on the spot; but, as Captain Webb-Ware suggests in the _Gazette of India_, the tea associations would do well to turn their attention to the sale of Indian teas in Russia, and to send some experimental consignments of their teas to Moscow by the overland route. The same remarks might also apply to a great many other English or Indian manufactured goods.


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