Cachar tea industry incurs loss of 4 million kg crop in 2017

 SILCHAR, March 7 – With an overall production of 46.79 million kgs, the tea industry in Barak Valley has incurred a loss of 4 million kg crop in 2017, said Ishwar Bhai Ubhadia, chairman of the Surma Valley branch of the Indian Tea Association,(SVBITA).Addressing tea planters at the 117th annual general meeting of the SVBITA held here on Monday, Ubhadia said “the All India production stood at 1279 million kgs in 2017 as against 1239 kgs in 2016 and 46 per cent of the output has come from the small tea growers. Barak Valley has recorded production of 46.79 million kgs in the bygone year as compared to 51.18 million kgs in 2016. Because of inclement weather, 4 million tea crop was damaged.”

The branch chairman attributed the loss to severe rainfall which had damaged the crop to a great extent. “In 2017, we have had 4000 mm rainfall which is the reason behind the mammoth crop loss,” he maintained.

On the other hand, Ubhadia informed that average auction price obtained for Cachar tea at Guwahati auctions stood at Rs 118.77 for the year 2017 as against Rs 114.12 in 2016. Realising the need to lay thrust on the quality of tea, Ubhadia said that meticulous efforts need to be pitched in to improve the quality of tea from the gardens of Barak Valley in order to reach out to the consumers in the international market. Also, in the wake of rising competition, tea has to be placed as a favourite beverage for the youths, he said.

Vijay Singh Panwar, manager of Chandighat Tea Estate threw light on the constraints affecting the tea industry to flourish saying that lack of adequate investments is by far the biggest hurdle in this regard. Interestingly, speaking on the human resource factor, Panwar informed that while the enrollment ratio of male labourers is much higher as compared to females, 86 per cent females are putting efforts in reaping the produce as compared to 14 per cent males. He also pointed out the need to think about engaging smart farming techniques making best use of the skilful resources available here for adding a fillip to the tea production. BR Tusnial, spoke on the future of tea as a plantation industry from an entrepreneur’s point of view.

Cachar Deputy Commissioner Dr S Laxmanan who gave a presentation on ‘Future of Tea Industry: Challenges and Opportunities’ said that besides the demographic and climatic factors, the tea industry faces balance of power across supply chain, consumer attitude towards food value and the sustainable leadership of emerging economies. Talking about the opportunities, the Deputy Commissioner said that the development of tea industry shall open new vistas in the international market for exports. He urged the tea garden managements to make efforts for turning their respective gardens into open defecation-free gardens.

Nayantara Paul Choudhury, additional vice chairman of ITA and Debashish Chakraborty, additional secretary of ITA Kolkata also spoke on the occasion. Bhaskar Prasad Chaliha, secretary of SVBITA was hosted the proceedings of the meeting.

While summing up the meeting, Prof Apurbananda Mazumder said that the present situation is a paradigm for the tea industry. The essence of tea industry is value addition and there is a serious need for self introspection and incorporation of professionalism. He added that since the quality of tea served to the customers has deteriorated, the grey areas must be addressed for obtaining better results.

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