GUWAHATI, May 9 � The tea industry in Assam is facing a major crisis due to the present power situation and if the situation remains the same for some time, most of the gardens will face serious problems during the second flush, which is traditionally the best quality of tea produced in the State.
Secretary of the Tea Association of India (TAI), Guwahati, D Deka told The Assam Tribune that for some time the gardens are facing severe power crisis and the gardens of the Barak valley have been suffering power cuts for around 22 hours a day for some time. But the situation worsened in the last few days and all the gardens are forced to depend totally on its own generator sets to run the factories.
Deka said that the second flush of the gardens of the State just started and traditionally this flush is the best quality of tea produced. This is a particular quality of Assam tea and the gardens always get the best price in the second flush and different foreign countries also wait for the second flush of Assam tea. The national and international blenders also wait for the second flush of Assam tea. He said that the poor power situation at this juncture might affect the production and the quality of some of the gardens might also be affected.
The TAI secretary pointed out that as the gardens are forced to depend entirely on the generator sets, the cost of production would go up. He revealed that the average cost of power paid by the gardens is around Rs 6 per unit, while the cost is around Rs 12 when generator sets are used. He pointed out that the cost of production in India is more than all the other tea producing countries of the world and around 50 percent of the total cost goes in labour cost. For example, the cost of production in Kenya is around 30 percent less than India and if the cost of production increases further because of lack of power, Assam tea might lose the competitive edge in the international market.