India 2010 tea output seen down 22 mln kg at 957 mln

Monday, 29 November 2010 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

KOLKATA (Reuters) - India’s tea production in 2010 is likely to fall by 22 million kg to 957 million kg as erratic weather and pest attack hit the crop in key growing areas, the Indian Tea Association (ITA) said in a report.

Last year, the world’s second biggest producer had harvested 979 million kg, lower than 980 million kg it had harvested a year before, it said.

The report pegged the exports for the current year at 190 million kg, marginally lower than 191.5 million kg in 2009.

“The shortfall was mainly due to erratic weather conditions and pest attack in the main tea growing regions of northern India,” an official with the association told Reuters.

“Erratic weather conditions, fluctuating temperature, uneven rainfall — sometime excess rain, sometimes drought — had ill-effect on tea bushes in Assam Valley,” the report said.

From June to August, infestation of helopeltis pest had brought down production at tea gardens in the north eastern state of Assam, India’s top producing state.

By September itself, the total shortfall in North India was more than 20 million kg, the report said.

“For 2010, we believe the total production would be 950/960 million kgs compared to 980 million last year,” Aditya Khaitan, chairman of ITA and managing director of McLeod Russel <MCLE.BO>, told Reuters earlier this month.

McLeod Russel is India’s largest tea producer and exporter.

Jan-Aug exports had risen to 124.1 million kg from 114.7 in the year-ago period.

India exports CTC (crush, tear, curl) tea variety mainly to Egypt, Pakistan and the U.K., and the premium orthodox variety to Iraq, Iran and Russia.