JORHAT, April 24 - The million dollar tea industry of the State witnessed a sharp drop in production during this plucking season due to multiple reasons like pernicious attack by pests, deficit rainfall during the past few months and hailstorms during the current month, which has obviously kept scores of planters on tenterhooks
Findings of the Jorhat-based Tocklai Tea Research Institute reveal that the average production of crop in the gardens of Jorhat, Golaghat, Sonari and Nazira sub-areas was lower by 43.51 percent in March this year in comparison to production during the same month last year. In February this year, those gardens witnessed 70.73 lower production of green leaves than the same month�s crop of 2016.
Production has been low in the North Bank gardens too, that include the tea sub-areas like Nagaon, North Lakhimpur, Mangaldai and many other locations in the month of March due to the adverse weather conditions that caused scanty rainfall in the first plucking season of the year.
�Crop in the North Bank during the month of March this year remained behind schedule by 26.41 percent than the corresponding month last year. Till date, crop has remained behind by 26.57 percent than the same period last year,� the findings stated.
Expressing concern over the impact of adverse weather condition on their gardens, several planters and mangers said that scanty rainfall in February and pernicious attack by loopers and caterpillars caused a very negative impact on the industry across the State.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, they said that recent hailstorms inflicted major damage to their gardens as the buds were completely destroyed in several tea-growing areas during the past few days.
�Yes, this time hailstorms have inflicted major damage in our gardens. Moreover, rainfall deficit during February caused negative impact this plucking season,� admitted noted tea planter Raj Barooah, Director of Aideobari Tea Estates Pvt. Limited.
The gardens in the highest tea-producing sub-area Dibrugarh also witnessed lower production by 42.96 percent in March this year in comparison to the corresponding period of 2016. Crop production in Doomdooma and Tingrai also showed 27.69 and 36.82 lower production respectively.
Lamenting about the attack of loopers and greenfly in their gardens, the Manager of Desoi Tea Estate, Vikram Slathia said that scanty rainfall in February helped the growth of pests, which posed threat to many of the gardens in Mariani and its neighbouring areas.
However, not all may be lost, feel some planters, who are still hopeful over the quality quotient of the �cuppa that cheers�. They felt that adequate pre-monsoon showers, which started since the last part of March, could help them harvest more crop during next month to fill up the production backlog in regard to the quantity of quality green leaves.