India is heading for a decline in tea production this calendar compared to 2015.
“The Tea Board has just now announced the production for May and it is as much as 22.13 million kg (mkg) less than May 2015. The output has fallen to 99.56 mkg from 121.69 mkg in May 2015. This is a decline of 18.19 per cent,” Rajesh Gupta, compiler of annual ‘Global Tea Digest’, told BusinessLine.
“This year, May was a dry month in both the North and South. North India lost 10.86 mkg, producing 84.73 mkg. South India lost 11.27 mkg and produced 14.83 mkg. Collectively, India produced 98.56 mkg against 121.69 mkg in May 2015,” a Tea Board source said.
“May is generally a ‘rush peak cropping month but this year it was among the driest months of the recent years,” Ramesh Bhojarajan, President, The Nilgiri Bought Leaf Tea Manufacturers’ Association, said.
“Prolonged dry weather affected plantation activities. (Powerful) wind caused evaporation on soil. This reduced the moisture content and in turn retarded the harvest. The arrival of green leaf for processing in our factories was so low that we could operate the factories only for four days a week and that too in a single shift,” he noted.
Tea companies producing speciality tea were affected more. “Huge wind caused withering of the tender leaves. This reduced the availability of leaves rich in juice required for manufacture of multiple brewing speciality teas,” said ENR Vejaya Shekara, Production Executive, Avataa Speciality Tea Bluegate Beverages.
“Our compilation shows that India’s production in the five months of the current calendar dropped to 272.55 mkg from 281.75 mkg in Jan-May 2015. This fall of 9.20 mkg marked a decline of 3.27 per cent,” Gupta said.
Assam topped the country’s production table with the cumulative output for the five months totalling 121.51 mkg (up 13.20 mkg). West Bengal lost a marginal 0.18 mkg to reach 68.91 mkg.
Due to adverse weather, South Indian production dropped by as much as 22.11 mkg to total 76.62 mkg. Tamil Nadu lost 15.83 mkg and fell to 52.34 mkg and Kerala 5.60 mkg to drop to 22.34 mkg.
“As of now, indications are that India’s production in the current calendar will be around 1,200 mkg against 1,209 mkg produced in 2015,” Bhojarajan added.