Tea production in Assam and West Bengal has dropped almost 10% during the first nine months of 2012 due to inclement weather conditions. The two states account for nearly 75% of the country’s tea production, with Assam having the lion’s share.
Though the Tea Board has released figures for tea crop in the north-eastern and southern regions only till July, data from Indian Tea Association show that production in Assam during January-September this year is down a tenth on year at 174.36 million kg (193.80 million kg), while the crop in West Bengal is lower by 5% at 45.43 million kg (47.77 million kg).
“Tea growing in Assam has suffered because of weather and a host of other factors including pest attacks. While crop in August has almost been at level with previous year, September has been a bad month as per information we got till Thursday,” Monojit Dasgupta, director general of Indian Tea Association told DNA.
To be sure, while monsoon arrived late in the rest of the country, in Assam saw a deluge since the beginning of the season, starting off with devastating flash floods, widely described as a one of the worst of its kind in history. Added to this, the state had incessant rains July through September.
The fallout of the flood situation on the tea industry of Assam would be felt not only in terms of destroyed crop, but also in the form of severely difficulties in transporting the crop from the hills to the plains, and also high absenteeism among the tea pluckers, many of whom might have been rendered homeless, said Dasgupta.
To make matters worse, a dry winter has set in now, with almost no rains in the hills of the tea growing regions in both the states.
The worst affected in Assam is the biggest tea growing region, Doom Dooma, where the crop is down 25% to 21.85 million kg (29.15 million kg).
Crop damages have also been serious in areas like Mangaldai where production is down 30%, or 3.3 million kg, and also in Panitola, Dibrugarh and Tingri, where output has dropped by 2.14 million kg, 1.54 million kg and 1.38 million kg over the previous nine months, ITA figures show.
The only bright spot is the Cachar district in southern Assam, which, along with Tripura, has shown an output growth of 5%, or 1.05 million kg. In September alone, production in these two regions has grown 11.5% to 4.48 million kg.
Overall, the country’s production set to drop around 10% in 2012.
That’s bad news for those used to the cuppa, morning or evening. Given that Kenya’s tea board has already flagged a 5% drop in crop and Sri Lanka has reported an 11% fall in output during January-August, get ready to pay more.