This year has been tough on Assam’s tea gardens producing the strong liquor tea. First, it was the lockdown, then floods and then incessant rains in Upper Assam, which, according to industry estimates, together account for a total production loss of close to 40 per cent. That’s a big loss for a state that supplies almost half of all tea produced in a country of tea lovers.
According to government estimates, Assam’s annual average production of about 700 million kg, could fall to about 500 million kg this year.
“By the time we opened up after the lockdown, the leaves had overgrown; we had to prune the entire garden. Soon, there were pest issues and disease; we lost almost 50 per cent of the crop in the initial days,” Mohan Jamwal, General Manager of Greenwood tea estate told NDTV.
It is estimated that the Assam tea industry has already lost about 80 million kg just to the nationwide coronavirus lockdown and its effects.
According to the official figures from the Tea Board of India, based on last year’s price of Rs 152.26 per kg, the total revenue loss for 2020 because of the lockdown alone can be pegged at Rs 1,218 crore.
“The floods hit harvest and then incessant rains in Upper Assam also affected the production patch,” said Dipanjal Deka, the Assam branch secretary of the Tea Association of India (TAI).
To tide over this spell of losses, the tea industry could be looking forward to an estimated 12 per cent increase in prices.
“Most packaging companies are still looking for good quality tea so we are now looking at having some sort of okay pricing,” Mr Deka said.
Losses aside, the triple whammy also means that the livelihood of close to 4 lakh temporary workers has been hit.
“According to the industry estimates, they have lost about 40 per cent of their production between January and June, and this affects the labour force; the temporary workers have lost their livelihood, there is no work for them,” Paban Singh Ghatowar, former Union Minister and President of Assam Cha Mazdoor Sangha, ACMS, told NDTV.