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From Global to Local Tea Markets: The Changing Political Economy of Tea Production within India's Domestic Value Chain

Natalie J. Langford

Development and Change, 2021, vol. 52, issue 6, 1445-1472

Abstract: The growth of emerging economies has led to a significant expansion of domestic markets in the global South. Yet, the vast majority of studies examining contemporary patterns of trade and production continue to use a global value chain (GVC) lens, therefore obfuscating important spatial and temporal shifts occurring within domestic geographies of production in the early decades of the 21st century. This article explores how a rapid increase in domestic consumption in the case of Indian tea production has transformed the industry, and how institutional and regulatory actors have responded to these changes. Using a value chain framework to explore the key actors and processes shaping the political economy of domestic production, this article identifies three processes which have driven the creation of new trade and production structures within India's domestic tea market: a significant rise in the outsourcing and fragmentation of the production process; the expansion of smallholder‐led production; and the introduction of private standards and governance programmes within the domestically oriented segment of production. These trends have important implications for the tea industry and shed light on how domestic markets in the global South are being transformed under 21st century geographies of trade and consumption.

Date: 2021
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