GUWAHATI, Nov 10 - Amid crisis in the industry, the Tea Board has decided to check production of lower quality tea that has created a mismatch between demand and supply resulting in poor price realisation.
An official source said the Tea Board would henceforth restrict setting up new factories or expansion of existing ones in certain “saturated areas” of the tea growing areas.
In order to ascertain availability of green leaves in the tea growing areas, the Tea Board conducted a survey and based on the data collated from the survey it has been found that 136 tea growing blocks in India have attained saturation level where no new tea factory can be sustained for lack of green leaves.
In Assam, there are 64 such blocks spread across 19 districts. The number of blocks would be updated at regular interval.
The Tea Board has asked its officials to “take note” of the list of saturated blocks before issuing any no objection certificate. However, mini tea factories have been kept out of purview of the advisory.
Meanwhile, for the second consecutive year, the Tea Board has set deadlines for plucking of green tea leaf and its processing by the factories in order to ensure quality control.
This year, December 14 has been fixed as the last date of plucking and December 16 the last date of processing. The tea manufacturing units will have to intimidate about the closure of the units for the season by December 17.
Tea production in India has risen from 878 million kg in 2003, to 1,338 million kg in 2018, indicating a 52 per cent rise in production in 15 years, which outstripped consumption of tea in the country, leading to stagnant selling prices for tea plantations.
Welcoming the Tea Board move, industry expert and Guwahati Tea Auction Buyers Association secretary Dinesh Bihani said it would help reduce the supply of low quality tea for which quality teas are not getting good price. “Due to excess crops, the market is flooded with low quality tea, hitting the industry badly,” he said.
During the recent 47th AGM of the Tea Association of India, its president Mudit Kumar had called for temporary restriction in supply of tea in order to give the estate sector a chance and had proposed a self-imposed cessation of production at certain periods when the growth and quality drops.