Agri Business

Darjeeling tea: Weather plays truant

Shobha Roy Kolkata | Updated on November 20, 2017 Published on March 25, 2013

The next few days would be crucial in determining the production of early season (first flush) Darjeeling tea due in April. According to Sheo Shankar Bagaria, Chairman of Darjeeling Tea Association, there has been little rainfall in the region post February.

“If the rainfall situation does not improve in the next four-to-five days then it can affect the April crop,” he said.

At 1.6 million kg, the first flush accounts for nearly 20 per cent of the country’s total Darjeeling tea produced during a year. A major part of the first flush crop comes in April, Bagaria said. The early season Assam crop is also expected to remain stagnant at last years’ level due to poor rains this year.

“Proper distribution of rainfall is the key for growing the crop. “This year the region got its first rain in February after almost three months (last rain happened in October 2012); and, thereafter, there has hardly been any rainfall,” he said. It requires about 2-3 inches of rain each month for producing a good crop, he added.

Prices

Though it is difficult to estimate the price impact, however, Bagaria said, input costs, particularly energy costs, have gone up by almost 15 per cent in the last one year. This might be passed on to the end-consumers. According to sources, the average price of Darjeeling tea increased by 15 per cent to Rs 370-380 a kg in 2012-13, compared with Rs 320-330 a kg in 2011-12. “A good majority of Darjeeling tea is produced in organic manner and this involves 10-15 per cent higher costs. The biggest challenge for organic gardens is the procurement of products and the carrying cost involved in taking it to remote areas,” he said.

Exports

Darjeeling Tea Association, Bagaria said, is looking to diversify the exports market for Darjeeling tea. Nearly 50 per cent of the Darjeeling tea is exported.

While Germany is the biggest market for the variety; demand from countries such as the US and Japan has also been steadily increasing, he said.



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Published on March 25, 2013
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