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Growth in tea export price

The average price has climbed to Rs 226.85 per kilo, which is around 11% more than the average price in 2018

By Avijit Sinha in Siliguri
  • Published 22.12.19, 2:16 AM
  • Updated 22.12.19, 2:16 AM
  • 2 mins read
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A tea garden in the Darjeeling hills Telegraph picture

The export of Indian tea to countries across the globe has remained steady in the first 10 months of 2019 compared to last year, along with a rise in the average price they fetched.

From January to October this year, the average price has climbed to Rs 226.85 per kilo, which is around 11 per cent more than the average price of Rs 205.47 per kilo Indian tea fetched in 2018.

“It is good that the exports have remained steady in the current year and there has been a marginal increase in prices. This would surely help the industry. But going by the quantity, we are still lagging behind the target of exporting around 300 kilos of tea. There has been a steady rise in production, particularly in the small tea sector,” said Bijoygopal Chakraborty, the president of the Confederation of Indian Small Tea Growers’ Associations (Cista).

In 2018, the total quantity of tea exported till October was 208.36 million kilos. This year, 206.69 million kilos have been exported during the same period, according to data available with the Tea Board of India.

Although the export has remained steady, there has been however, a change in the buying pattern.

“The initiatives taken to export more tea to countries like Iran have worked because there has been a surge in export of Indian tea to the country. Also, the export has increased in the US and also in Bangladesh over last year,” said Sumit Ghosh, the secretary of the Terai branch of the Tea Association of India.

However, the quantity of tea exported to some other countries such as the UK, Kazakhstan, Russia, UAE, Pakistan and Sri Lanka has declined over the past year.

“The current trend of exports indicates that we might end up close to 240 million kilos or so at the end of this year. But we must simultaneously keep in mind that a number of other countries like Sri Lanka, Kenya and Vietnam, which have started producing tea of late, are steadily gaining overseas markets. That is why, consistent promotion of Indian tea and maintenance of quality are necessary,” said a tea planter based in Siliguri.

To ensure that tea produced in India is of proper quality, the Tea Board has taken a new initiative since last year. The board has announced cut-off dates for plucking to stop in the gardens and for it to recommence in the next season.

“This is because during winter, fresh leaves stop coming in tea bushes. There are reports that tea is still produced with whatever leaves are available in the gardens. Such a practice was affecting the quality of tea,” the planter added.

During this period (January to October 2019) the highest average price that has been paid for Indian tea by any country is Ireland. During these 10 months, only 1.34 million kilos of tea have been exported, with the average price being Rs 641.34 per kilo, sources said.