Association of Planters of Kerala has called upon the State government to set up a modern warehousing and value added packaging unit like the model at Dubai Tea Trading Centre in Jebel Ali.

The proposed facility could be in a Special Economic Zone in Kochi to enable tea estates in Kerala to add value by blending, packaging, and branding their teas for exports which would add a premium to the commodity prices. The tea park should also have modern research labs to create new products out of tea as per evolving consumer preferences, said SB Prabhakar, Chairman, APK.

Increasing jobs

He also suggested that the State government in collaboration with the Centre should formulate a long-term financial support package for replanting. He pointed out that the average yield per hectare is around 1,700 kg in Kerala whereas it is above 2,500 kg in the neighbouring States. The average age of tea bushes in the State is above 80 years.

With proper planned replanting, he said the sector could double the yield levels within the next decade, which will significantly increase the employment potential in tea plantations. However, he added that exorbitant replanting cost is hampering any progress in this regard.

Meanwhile, the Kochi tea auction market barely remained steady with a considerable drop in offered quantities at 8,54,739 kg in sale no 48. Low medium and plainer teas were steady to firm and sometimes dearer in CTC dust. Kerala Loose Tea traders operated with fair strength, while upcountry buyers subdued. Exporters operated at the bottom of the market and covered a nominal quantity.

However, the leaf market remained firm with good Nilgiri brokens and whole leaf in orthodox varieties were dearer by longer margin of ₹5 to 10. The quantity offered was 2,39,777 kg and exporters to CIS and West Asia lent fair support.

In CTC leaf, high-priced brokens and Fannings tended to ease. The quantity offered was 45,000 kg with a subdued demand from exporters.