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Tea bears brunt of weather

Calcutta, June 5: Bad weather has caused a loss of 30 million kg in the north Indian tea crop during April and May, with the industry warning of higher prices in the coming months.

Lack of rainfall and high temperature during January-May have adversely impacted production, the Indian Tea Association (ITA) today said.

The association said the shortfall in the Assam valley alone would be 23.35 million kg. The region contributes a major share to the total output.

Production in Darjeeling was down around 10 per cent over last year. Total production in north India during April and May last year was 132 million kg.

“Till March, all other tea districts, barring Darjeeling and Terai, registered some gain in crop. However, the situation deteriorated later when the requirement of rain became imperative. The situation went from bad to worse in April to May,” an ITA statement said today.

The inclement weather also adversely impacted the health of the tea bush and the quality of tea produced.

“Most of the gardens have not been able to follow the standard agricultural practices such as ground manuring because of the want of rainfall in time — thereby depressing current and future crop outlook,” the ITA said.

The association further said all the major groups had reported significantly lower leaf and production and similar trends were prevailing among the small growers.

“The shortfall is unlikely to be made up in the coming months and consumption is also growing. With the cost of production going up, there may be a minimum price rise of 10 per cent,” ITA chairman Arun Singh told The Telegraph.

“This is definitely not a happy situation for the tea industry. Production is down and there is an impending wage revision, which has been delayed and will be effective from April. This will push up production costs and ultimately translate into a price hike,” said S.S. Bagaria, chairman of the Darjeeling Tea Association.

 
 
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