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Rain cheer for tea industry - Planters hope for good first flush crop

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By Staff Reporter
  • Published 1.04.10

Guwahati, March 31: Continuous rain for the past one week has brought cheer to the tea industry in Assam with planters hoping for a good harvest during the first flush that ends in May.

The tea produced from the leaves picked during first flush (March-May) is known for its strong and fresh flavour. Nearly 20 per cent of the total production of tea in Assam takes place during the first flush period.

Assam produces about 500 million kg of tea annually, which is more than 50 per cent of the country’s total production of the crop.

The state has over 800 tea estates spread across both the Brahmaputra and Barak valleys.

Upper Assam, the hub of tea activities in the state, recorded about 72.6mm rainfall in the past six days.

During the corresponding period last year, however, there was no rainfall.

“We are hoping for a good harvest during the first flush,” said Abhijit Sharma, chairman of the Assam Tea Planters Association.

Sharma, who is also a renowned planter, said Golaghat district, which witnessed a prolonged dry spell, had also been blessed with heavy rainfall in the past few days.

Upper Assam witnessed 22.4mm rainfall today, the heaviest during the past six days of continuous rainfall.

Kamala Kanta Nath, head of the department of agro meteorology at Assam Agricultural University, said the rain had come as a boon for not only tea but paddy crops as well.

“Last year there was no rain at all during this period. As such the agriculture sector was adversely affected,” he said.

A scientist at the Tocklai Tea Research Station said the rain had come as a blessing as pest attacks on tea bushes would reduce.

“Heavy showers have washed away the red spiders and helopeltis (tea mosquitoes) from the tea bushes. The pest attacks on the bushes will lessen now,” he said.

The Tocklai scientist said the cost of production would also come down since the planters need not use more pesticides like they would have to do in the case of a dry spell.

Apart from the tea-rich Upper Assam, the showers also brought good news to planters in Barak Valley.

“We are expecting a good harvest during the first flush. We hope to make up for the crop loss in the last few weeks,” said Dipanjal Deka, secretary of the Tea Association of India.

The association has several member gardens in Barak Valley.

Planters in Assam were a worried lot till a month back in view of the dry spell that began from December. The state witnessed a similar situation last year.

Another scientist at the Assam Agricultural University said the state had witnessed a tremendous climatic change in recent times with a decrease of nearly 50 per cent in annual rainfall in the last 15 years. Last year, planters had to carry out replantation in several gardens in Jorhat, Golaghat, Karbi Anglong and Sivasagar districts.