GUWAHATI, May 20 - Continuous rainfall for the past two weeks have posed a threat to the Upper Assam tea belt in the form of affecting production of quality tea. Rainfall in these districts have severely reduced the sunshine hours needed for the growth of quality tea leaves during this season. This season is known as the second flush in the tea industry and the tea leaves grown and plucked during this season are known as the best produce.
According to Dr Anup Kumar Baruah, Director of the Tea Research Association (TRA), Tocklai Tea Research Institute, about 30 per cent depression in yield has so far been reported this season mostly from the Upper Assam areas, due to the reduced sunshine hours.
The TRA, Tocklai Advisory Department, has issued a special flood advisory to the tea gardens calling for appropriate measures for proper care of the tea bushes in the event of flood and possible damage to the bushes, said Dr Barua.
It needs mention here that the second flush of tea leaves is the core of the quality tea produced in the State, particularly in the Brahmaputra Valley. Experts are of the opinion that the second flush season starts in April and ends in June. Second flush tea fetches the highest price for the tea gardens and most of the second flush teas are exported to foreign countries. High-end buyers prefer the second flush teas of Assam.
However, when contacted, some of the Golaghat-based tea garden owners maintained that their gardens have not been affected by the excessive rainfall-related problems. Experts maintain that since Golaghat is located in a comparatively rain-deficient area, the gardens of the district are not be affected by the above phenomenon. Rather, a little bit of high amount of rainfall is beneficial for the gardens of this district.
But, the tea gardens of the other Upper Assam areas are highly concerned over the present situation. The arrival of monsoon, which is expected by mid-June this year, is likely to aggravate the situation for the tea gardens in these districts with increased rainfall activities. The India Meteorology Department (IMD) has predicted a near normal monsoon this year.
Borjhar-based Regional Meteorology Centre (RMC) sources said here that a strong Westerly System resulted in continuous rainfall activities, mainly in places over Eastern Arunachal Pradesh, North East Assam and adjoining Nagaland during the past two weeks ending on Friday last.
The RMC today predicted that there is a very likelihood of increased rainfall activities mainly in areas over West Assam, Meghalaya and parts of South Assam during the next three to four days.