GUWAHATI, April 24 - The North Eastern Tea Association (NETA) has done a SWOT analysis of the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown of the Assam tea industry, for assessing both positive and negative attributes, and to determine how best to sustain in this difficult time.
Stating that the industry will be able to harvest the second flush teas � harvesting months being May and June � the report said that as every year the second flush teas fetch better price.
�There is no leftover stock with tea traders spread across India because there was no supply of tea in March. Very small quantity of tea will move out of Assam in April. Tea in Assam is seasonal in nature and the peak plucking months are July, August, September and October when about 60 per cent of tea leaves are plucked. This will act to the industry�s advantage,� NETA adviser Bidyananda Barkakoty said.
The report said that as it would take some more time for the supply chain to stabilize, tea producers would face huge liquidity crunch and the total revenue loss from March 23 to April 14 would be in the range of Rs 1,200 crore.
�The crop loss in March and April will continue till May because of the necessity of skiffing of overgrown leaves due to the lockdown.
�The total crop loss will be about 80 million kg. The tea gardens have resumed their operations from April 15 with 50 per cent workforce. Therefore, crop loss and the revenue loss will further increase, hurting the industry,� Barkakoty said.
Reasoning that tea being an immunity booster and it is likely that consumption of tea will increase in the days ahead, Barkakoty said that exports to China was a welcome possibility. He added that it is an opportunity for the industry to explore new markets for exporting tea based on the health benefits of tea and also to sell tea directly through online platforms.
�About 18 per cent of India�s production is exported and the remaining 82 per cent is consumed domestically and therefore export of Indian tea may get affected. The Out Of Home (OOH) consumption is almost negligible due to lockdown and it will continue even after partial relaxation of lockdown. There was no harvesting of tea leaves for three weeks followed by skiffing of more than 35 per cent of tea bushes and now only 50 per cent of workforce is deployed as per government order, therefore the crop loss may be much more than estimated, constituting a threat,� the report sad.