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Tea board mulls output freeze next month

Calcutta, Nov. 23: The Tea Board of India may ask the producers to stop tea production in December due to an excess tea production of nearly 40 million kg and reduced exports.

Talking to The Telegraph, Tea Board chairman . K. Das said, “We are taking legal views on the matter. It has to be vetted by the Union law ministry and the commerce ministry. We are in the process of giving a final shape to our proposal.”

Tea exports in the last few months have been extremely depressing, said the chairman. “Exports are down by almost 40 million kg till date. We will be able to achieve tea exports of only 160 million kg in 2003,” he said.

India has lost a major market in Iraq following the Iraq-US war. In 2002, India had exported 43 million kg of tea to Iraq. “This year we have not exported tea to Iraq. This has worsened the export scenario,” said Das.

The Russian exports have also not shown any quantum jump. “We are trying to revive the export markets in Russia. A delegation had gone to Russia recently. The Indian Tea Association has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Russian companies for floating joint ventures. Let’s see how things go,” the chairman said.

Figures available from the Tea Board of India show that in January-August, India has been able to export 87.8 million kg of tea against Rs 125.70 million kg in the corresponding period of the previous year.

On the other hand, production in the same period has gone up substantially to 467.5 million against 428.4 million kg in the year-ago period.

“The domestic consumption has also not gone up. Rather it has gone down compared with the previous years. In view of this, we have decided to ask the producers to stop production in December to avoid carry-over stock in 2004,” said Das.

Multi-country origin

The tea industry has welcomed the government’s move to ask the export-oriented tea units and units in the special economic zones which import tea for re-export to declare multi-country origin of tea on the tea packs.

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