Lockdown and uneven rainfall hits tea crop, prices firm up at auctions
Tea crop during the year has been affected due to the two-month lockdown in April and May and subsequent uneven rainfall in Assam, industry experts said.
As per the Indian Tea Association (ITA) estimates the production in north India, comprising Assam and north Bengal is down by 40 per cent from January to June as compared to the figures of 2019.
ITA secretary general Arijit Raha said: “We are awaiting the figures for July which will come in a few days.” In Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri in north Bengal lesser quantity of green leaf is being plucked due to large scale absenteeism which has affected production, ITA said.
According to ITA, incessant rainfall in the two districts is causing frequent and intensive grid failure in the gardens leading to crop shortfall.
In some areas, the labour lines and the gardens are submerged under water, it said, adding that incessant rainfall across the month of July is dwindling the crop prospect as it has been already affected by the lockdown.
CTTA, the body which monitors tea auctions in Kolkata, said that the crop shortfall due to lockdown and rains is leading to firming up of tea prices.
Calcutta Tea Traders Association (CTTA) chairman Vijay Jagannath said, “auction prices are firm and higher substantially over the last year”.
He said that the industry is staring at crop loss of around 200 million kg during the year and new price levels are established.
According to him, prices of good quality tea has increased by around Rs 100 per kg in the domestic market. It is the same for the top quality of the beverage as well.
Jagannath said heavy rains in Assam and north Bengal is adding to the crop shortfall by another 15 per cent and producers are struggling to manage their operations.