Rains Bring Relief to Assam and West Bengal

GUWAHATI, India

Tea growers in both West Bengal and Assam celebrated this week after four days of steady rain broke a drought responsible for a 43 percent decline in January production.

April showers brought relief but cumulative production is expected to drop 50 percent through March.

Weather conditions have been very harsh since October which accounts for the drastic dip in production this year. However, we are expecting good flush in April as weather conditions have improved,” said Bidyananda Barkakoty, chairman of North Eastern Tea Association (NETA).

The Tea Board of India estimates total production in Assam declined by 1.46 million kgs in January compared to the same month last year when the world’s largest tea producing area harvested 3.42 million kg. The Brahmaputra Valley saw the greatest setback to 1.12 million kgs, a decline of 55 percent compared to March 2011. First flush teas represent about 10 percent of total volume for the year in Assam, said Barkakoty who is optimistic the return of favorable weather will quickly boost production. India targeted a billion kgs but fell short at 937 million last year.

Shortfalls always drive up prices and some Madhupur Tea Estate Broken Pekoe CTC (crush/tea/curl) brought 281 kg ($5.45) at the Guwahati Tea Auction Center on April 10. Teas from Iringmara Tea Estate brought INRs 200 kg ($3.88) last week, a price up INRs 80 kg ($1.55) compared to the same offerings at last year’s March auction. Madhupur is a J. Thomas Co. garden in Assam’s Lakhimpur District. In January a Broken Pekoe CTC from Mahaluxmi Tea Estate brought a record INRs 302 kg ($5.86).

Source: Business Standard, Economic Times, Assam Tribune

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