Scanty rainfall in Assam has badly hit the start of the new tea season. Tea producers in the country’s top-producing State are a worried lot now as they are expecting production of Assam first flush tea to be lower by around 30-50 per cent this year compared to last year.

“Till now the situation is very bad in Assam. The rain so far has been one-fourth of last year’s rain. This year the first flush crop will be around 30-50 per cent down compared to last year,” Tea Board’s former Chairman Prabhat Kamal Bezboruah told businessline.

Quality good

To the planters’ relief, the quality of first flush crop so far has been quite good. “Let us hope that the market pays enough money for that,” said Vikram Singh Gulia, Managing Director and CEO, Amalgamated Plantations.

“There has been no rain so far in the month of March in Assam. In north India, total production was over 65 million kg (mkg) in March last year. Per Tea Research Association (TRA)‘s estimate, it will be at least 40 per cent lower this year. Things will keep on changing. If there is no rain, it could go up to 50 per cent also. If there is rain, it could be around 35 per cent lower compared to last year,” Gulia said.

Assam produced 34.04 mkg of tea in March 2023, whereas the total output of the State stood at 674.89 mkg in the last calendar year, according to Tea Board India data.

For the Assam tea industry, first flush crops are generally produced in March and April. However, second flush is more important as it is considered to be the best quality Assam tea. Second flush crops, which sell at premium prices, are generally produced in May and June.

“Plucking has started more or less in all the districts in Assam. Tea production will be low for March. But it is difficult to say what will happen in April. So, in April the picture will be more clear,” said Bidyananda Barkakoty, adviser of the North Eastern Tea Association (NETA).