Agri Business

Planters’ body seeks government aid for tea sector

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on April 16, 2020 Published on April 16, 2020

The Covid-19 lockdown has inflicted a crop loss of 23 million kg (mkg), valued at ₹314 crore, on the south Indian tea industry, according to the United Planters’ Association of South India (Upasi).

Though the plantation activities have partially commenced in South India, Upasi said the cancellation and postponement of trade, and restrictions in movement of commodities had severely choked the cash flow.

Inventory pile-up

 

The value of tea in stockpile due to the closure of marketing channels are estimated at ₹168 crore, which includes stocks meant for export markets, said RM Nagappan, Upasi president. To bring back tea plantations under the regular harvesting cycle, tea fields have to be skiffed in order to cut and remove the overgrown shoots.

The recovery period after skiffing is around 30-45 days and the crop loss is projected for the recovery period as well as the crop loss that will incur due to the stoppage of spraying operations. The projected cost required for restarting operations in the field and factories would be around ₹60 crore, he said.

Sops sought

In a representation to Tea Board, the Upasi president pointed out that the South Indian tea plantations are going through challenging times due to non-remunerative prices, declining productions year-on-year and a high cost of production, making the sector increasingly unsustainable.

Added to these, is the lockdown.

As a short-term measure, Upasi has sought a one-time loan restructuring to all tea plantations.

All committed incentives under various developmental schemes of commodity boards should be settled immediately.

It is pointed out that amount of ₹67 crore for South India are outstanding towards the approved developmental activities undertaken by the plantations due to the non-availability of funds with the commodity boards.

In the medium term, Upasi requested capital incentive for the modernisation of irrigation facilities, transport equipment and value-added activities.

There is an urgent need to improve demand in domestic and export markets which will help in better realisation to the growers.

There is a need for a holistic approach to mechanisation, which should include replanting programme, as clonal fields are better suited for mechanisation, the planters’ body said.

Published on April 16, 2020

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