Scarce rain, excessive heat caused fall in tea production in Assam, Bengal: Industry

Guwahati, June 20 (IANS): Insufficient rainfall and excessive heat are hampering production of tea to a great extent during the current cropping season in Assam and West Bengal, industry sources said on Thursday. 

Industry body Tea Association of India (TAI) said that the data released by the Tea Board of India indicates a production drop of around 8 per cent in Assam and around 13 per cent in West Bengal up to April this year as against the same period last year.

TAI President Sandeep Singhania said that due to lack of rainfall and high temperature, the tea growing regions of West Bengal and Assam have witnessed significant wilting of tea bushes, which indicated a further crop loss in the coming months.

He said that as reported by the member tea estates of the association, the growers of Assam and West Bengal are estimated to be behind by around 20 per cent and 40 per cent respectively during the month of May as against the same period last year.

Singhania said that the data published by India Meteorological Department (IMD) for the period from March 1 to May 31 has shown significantly less rainfall in the range of 50 per cent to 80 per cent in the major tea growing districts of West Bengal and 10 per cent to 30 per cent in Assam as against normal rainfall received by the districts in the same period earlier.

Since, tea is a rain-fed crop, not receiving sufficient rain during these important months hampers the production of its premium first flush and second flush during this time and loss of crop during this period will severely affect the cash flows of the companies, the TAI President said.

The much-awaited rainfall was finally received in the tea growing districts of Assam and West Bengal with the southwest monsoon reaching sub-Himalayan West Bengal and northeast India on May 30-31 covering most parts of both the states, nearly a week ahead of schedule.

The TAI said that post the onset of monsoon, both the states have witnessed profuse rainfall during the first fortnight of the month of June and as per the data released by the IMD, the tea growing districts of West Bengal and Assam have already received 15- 66 per cent and 3-20 per cent more rainfall respectively compared to normal rainfall for the month.

Excessive rainfall coupled with practically no sunshine during the day has again hampered the crop production in both the states.

As reported by most of the tea estates, the production in West Bengal is behind by 25 per cent to 40 per cent and in Assam around 10-15 per cent as against last year during the first fortnight of June.

The combined fall in the tea production till the end of June (this year) is projected to be less by around 60 million kgs in the region as compared to the corresponding period of last year.

The crop that has been lost is primarily of the first and second flush – which are the best quality teas for the year. This is definitely going to impact the revenue of the producers for the year, Singhania pointed out.