GUWAHATI, Aug 20 - Crop shortfall, lower prices and rise in cost of production have together made the State�s tea industry face a serious challenge.
Tea industry sources told this newspaper that crop yield has gone even below that of the last year. While the crop for the month of July is lower in the Brahmaputra Valley this time, compared to that of the last year, this year�s total crop yield between January and July is either lower or at par compared to that of the last year�s corresponding period.
Significantly, last year�s total crop yield of Assam was lower by around 30 million kgs � about 5 per cent � compared to that of in 2013. So far, the crop yield this year is even lower than that of 2014. Therefore, this year has become a very challenging year for the State�s tea industry, sources said.
The average price of Crush/Cut-Tear-Curl (CTC) tea at the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre (GTAC) from April to the first week of August is lower by Rs 16.30, i.e., about 10 per cent, compared to the corresponding period last year. Moreover, the weekly out-lot (unsold remnant) percentage at the GTAC during this period this year is 32.67 per cent on an average, against last year�s 21.25 per cent during the corresponding period.
Workers� wages constitute about 60 per cent of the total cost of production of tea. The hike of Rs 43 per day in the cash wage over a period of three years, with effect from January 2015, �has a huge impact on costs�. Moreover, there is a significant hike in input costs, like electricity, gas, coal, fertiliser, plant protection formulations, etc., which have led to a �huge rise in the cost of tea production�, said the sources.
Again, though rainfall from January to July this year is more, compared to that of the corresponding period of last year, the distribution of rainfall this year is not uniform so far, ....while in some months heavy rainfall was received by the tea estates, in some other months, they virtually received no rainfall, sources added.