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Tea lords raise toast to bumper crop
- Industry makes up for shortfall in early part of the year with mega produce

Guwahati, Nov. 6: Champagne glasses are passé. A bumper crop and the Assam tea industry is ready to clink its china and raise a toast to the refreshing brown liquor.

In a heart-warming reversal of fortunes, the tea industry has witnessed a bumper produce between September 15 and October 31 and has “almost overcome” the shortfall it had posted in the early months of the year.

Industry captains say the production during this period was “almost the best” in the last 10 years.

The Assam Tea Planters’ Association chairman, Abhijit Sharma, today said many tea gardens in Upper Assam recorded their highest production during this period after several years.

“This is the reason why the price of green leaf has fallen in the past couple of months. Moreover, tea is fetching good price at the auction,” he said.

Green leaf prices have gone down to as low as Rs 6-8 per kg in the last couple of months — which is almost half the normal price — triggering panic among small tea growers.

Assam produces half of the country’s tea production, which is about 450 million kg per year.

Guwahati-based secretary of the Tea Association of India, Dipanjol Deka, said Assam has managed to make up for the loss in production it suffered in the early months because of bad weather.

“We were about 15 per cent short of production till April-May, but the bumper harvest has made up for the shortfall,” he said.

Till May, the Assam tea industry had posted a total shortfall of around 9 million kg. Tea production in June this year was 63 million kg as against 55 million kg in June last year. Although the official figure is not out yet for October, industry captains believe that it would be around 65 million kg.

The director of Tocklai Tea Research Station, Mridul Hazarika, said it was probably because of the favourable climatic condition that the production has shown such improvement.

The ATPA chairman said the barring a few pockets in Jorhat and Golaghat districts, crop production in the last month was unprecedented.

“We have not witnessed such production in many gardens, especially in Dibrugarh and Sivasagar districts in many years,” he said.

ATPA, the apex body of the local planters in Assam, has around 180 member gardens.

Former chairman of ATPA, Raj Baruah, said the good season started soon after the Pujas.

Baruah, himself a planter, recorded a bumper crop in some of his gardens.

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