Despite the permission granted by The Nilgiris District Collector to produce tea inspite of the national lockdown and Section 144 of Code of Criminal procedure in vogue, the private small-scale factories, called bought leaf factories, and the large number of small growers in the district have announced that they will not resume operations until the lockdown is lifted.

“We stopped production once the Prime Minister called for national lockdown to fight against Covid-19. Teas worth ₹30 crore are remaining under blockage in factories and warehouses. Nevertheless, we are extending our full co-operation to the Governments in Centre and State by maintaining lockdown and remaining indoors,” L Vairavan, Secretary, The Nilgiri Bought Leaf Tea Manufacturers’ Association, told BusinessLine .

“We are concerned about the safety of our workers as also our suppliers, especially the small growers who supply our raw material. We are advising them to stay in their houses. So, we will not manufacture tea until the national lockdown is lifted,” he asserted.

Similarly, the small growers, too, are remaining indoors. “It is a very crucial period in the nation’s fight against Covid-19. The small growers have stopped field operations since the imposition of national lockdown. The major problem is that the unplucked tea leaves in the fields will be overgrown and we have to discard them as manure,” Ramesh Chander, President, The Nilgiris Small Tea Growers’ Association, said.

“After doing that, it will take some three weeks for the tea bushes to return to bearing stage. Collectively, small growers will be without income for about two months. We, therefore, appeal to the Governments in the Centre and state to help the growers with one-time subsidy,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Coonoor Tea Trade Association continues with the closure of operations relating to auctions, warehouse and brokers’ offices until the national lockdown is lifted.

“Even though permission for tea production has been granted, it is difficult to operate unless the entire supply chain is put in place. This includes normalising transportation of green leaf to factory, manufactured tea to auction warehouse and sample teas to buyers as also the conduct of auctions, working of Tea Auction Broking Houses and the post-auction movement of tea by buyers and transport of teas to all India markets,” Rajesh Gupta, Managing Director, Global Tea Brokers, said.