India achieved record production and exports of tea in the last fiscal year, according to the Tea Board.

In a press release issued on Friday, the Board said production grew by three per cent (36 million kg) during the last fiscal to 1,233 m kg, riding on 7 per cent production growth in Assam, which contributes half of the country’s total tea output.

Production increased by a marginal 1.68 per cent in Bengal, and declined by 6.95 per cent in South India, both of which account for one-fourth of the total.

Production declined by a sharp 15.73 per cent in Kerala due to labour unrest.

Nearly one-third of total production was contributed by small growers through bought-leaf factory (BLF) routes. Small growers contributed 53 per cent of production in Tamil Nadu, 40 per cent in Bengal and 27 per cent in Assam.

CTC teas dominate production, contributing 91 per cent of the total. However, production of Orthodox and green teas is rising at a faster rate.

Exports On the export front, the country breached the 230 m kg mark after 35 years by exporting 232.92 m kg of tea worth ₹4,493 crore in 2015-16. When compared to 2014-15, export volume and value were both up by 17 per cent.

India exported 231.74 m kg of tea in 1980-81, riding on Russian buying. The previous highs were 242 m kg in 1976-77 and 233.09 m kg in 1956-57.

Russia (48.23 m kg) is still the largest buyer, followed by Iran (22.13 m kg), Pakistan (19.37 m kg), the UAE (16.15 m kg), Germany (10.53 m kg), Bangladesh (9.49 m kg) and Poland (6.14 m kg).

Interestingly, the higher export earnings, notwithstanding the realisation per kg of tea, remained stagnant at ₹193 compared to the previous fiscal year.

According to the Tea Board, auction price realisation increased 8 per cent over the previous year. This, however, is not indicative of the industry realisation as majority of teas were sold through private contracts until last year.

Last October, the Board made it mandatory for planters and bought-leaf factories to sell 50 per cent of the production through auctions.

During the first two months (April-May) of this fiscal, price realisation of South Indian teas increased to ₹104 a kg from ₹81 a kg last year.

Price realisation of North Indian teas has increased marginally from ₹143 a kg to ₹148 a kg.