Help sought as drought leads to a dip in tea production in eastern India

Tuesday, 29 March 2016 00:17 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: Tea garden owners in India’s eastern West Bengal state on Friday sought aid for the tea plantations affected by drought, which has led to a dip in tea production in the area.

Terai region in West Bengal has recorded over 80% deficient rainfall since October 2015, which has created drought conditions and led to a significant drop in tea production.

The Terai Indian Planters’ Association (TIPA) plans to draw the attention of the Indian Tea Board (ITB) and demand a special package for the plantations’ survival.

“We are facing all kinds of problems like maintenance of the matured tea and young tea as well as the crop perspective is very bad. During these months, early part of the year, in the month of March, April and May, we harvest first flush. And due to this drought condition prevailing in this area, the harvest is very low and we are losing almost 75% of our crops, which is very severe for our economic viability as well as the viability of the garden because lots of bushes are dying,” said a tea garden owner, MP Bansal.

TIPA recently wrote to the Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Nirmala Sitharaman, on various issues, including introduction of crop insurance in the tea plantations due to climatic changes in the region.

According to the TIPA secretary, around 35% profit is generated during the first flush season by producing prime tea leaves.

But this year, the production is below 70%, affecting the rate of profit during the peak season.

The tea industry in northern West Bengal accounts for 30% of the total tea production in the country.

India exports 200 million kilograms of tea every year to different parts of the world. Of this, the northeastern part, including Assam, Darjeeling, Dooars and north Dinajpur region, produces 100 million kilograms of tea a year.