Assam tea industry losses Rs.1000 crore due to COVID-19 lockdown:
Guwahati, April 24: Assam tea industry losses Rs.1000 crore. The 180-year-old tea industry of Assam has hit hard by the lockdown to beat the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and it has witnessed a revenue loss of Rs.1000 crore.
Even as the government has allowed the tea gardens to resume work with a maximum 50 percent workforce and maintain social distancing norms, the Assam’s tea industry has witnessed a huge loss during the lockdown period.
One of the big sectors of the state which employs around 1.5 million people in both big and small tea gardens has faced different challenges during this period.
The first flush of tea which falls between March-April and it produces the best quality of tea, has already affected.
The tea gardens in the state had to close down from March 22 and the government had allowed the gardens to resume works with a maximum 50 percent workforce from April 15.
Tea Association of India (TAI) Assam branch Secretary Dipanjal Deka said that, due to lockdown, the Assam tea industry has faced huge losses.
“We missed the first flush and hopeful that we will get the second flush. The loss has been attributed to skiffing or removal of overgrown tea leaves that are not fit for harvesting and when tea leaves become too long, overgrown, we can’t produce the best quality tea. When the first flush of tea has come out it takes a maximum of three weeks. We lost around 40 million kg of tea. A huge amount of tea leaves are also coming from the small tea growers. The entire tea industry of Assam has faced a loss of around Rs 1000 crore,” Dipanjal Deka said.
He further said that, following the government order, most of the tea gardens are now functional with a maximum 50 percent workforce and the tea gardens are following the government guidelines.
“Production has started, but we are facing another problem that how to sell our produce. The tea auction has also opened at Guwahati Tea Auction Centre from April 23. How we are sending the samples to our buyers and some buyers are from Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat. We don’t know how to send the product samples to them and without participation in an auction, we will not get a good price,” Dipanjal Deka said.
“The tea gardens have opened with a maximum 50 percent workforce and the gardens have to bear all expenses. Without selling the tea how we will get the money to pay the workers. In a medium-size tea garden, there are around 2000 workers. We have not only to pay their wages, but also provided ration. It is difficult for maximum tea gardens to arrange that money,” Dipanjal Deka said.
According to the Tea Board of India report, Assam had produced 715.79 million kg tea last year.
Following the government order, tea auction has been started at Guwahati Tea Auction Centre from April 23.
Last year, the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre sold 195 million kg of tea produced in Assam.
A rare variety of Assam tea, Golden Butterfly Tea of Dikom Tea Estate of Rossell Tea Industries set a world record after it had auctioned at Rs 75,000 per kg at Guwahati Tea Auction Centre last year.
There are a total of 803 registered tea gardens and more than 10,000 small tea gardens in Assam and around 45 lakh daily wage laborers are working in the tea gardens.