AGARTALA, March 31 � With the unprecedented drought prevailing in Tripura, there is an apprehension that there will be a fall in production of tea by 20 per cent this year.
That means the State which has 57 tea estates will have 20 lakh kg less production of tea during the year due to the pro-longed dry spell.
The effect of drought is so serious that tea bushes are dying, sun-scorched and diseases like thrips, red-spider and other mites are prevalent in a large scale.
Even if rain comes now, tea leaves will sprout only after 21 days. So, the industry will loose first, second, third and fourth flush during the season.
The industry has been suffering since 2006. All water sources in gardens have got exhausted while irrigation is also not possible at present and thus young tea plants and matured bushes are dying. Nursery plants are now almost dead for want of water.
The industry suffers because of old age of tea bushes, high percentage of vacancy ration, lack of internal generation of fund and low productivity level with depressed tea market and thus gardens are facing heavy cash crunch almost every year.
�It is therefore, suggested that a joint strategy is made by the Tea Board, State Government and Centre for the survival and development of the tea industry�, said PK Sarkar, secretary of Tea Association of India (TAI), State unit here on Saturday.
The State produces common tea which are mostly sold in the public auction centres in Guwahati and Kolkata. The State produces on an average 9.5 million kg annually, he said.
�Alternative arrangement for supply of drinking water should be made by the State Government to solve the present crisis in the industry�, Sarkar said.
There are 57 tea estates in Tripura out of which 20 have tea factories. Rest are small, marginal and weak and surviving by selling green leaf to the gardens having tea factories. Around 20,000 workers are directly involved in tea cultivation in the land-locked State.