Delayed rain, coupled with increased pest proliferation, is casting a shadow on the production of high value first-flush tea in North Bengal and the adjoining sub-Himalayan region, raising concern over prices, the Business Standard newspaper reported.
Small growers estimate at least 40 per cent of the first-flush crop this year might be hit, which coupled with pressure on supplies from southern India is expected to raise auction prices, the newspaper said in a report.
“In 2015, North Bengal produced around 355 million kg, of which small growers produced 131 mn kg. This year, however, since September, this region has not seen any rain and we are dependent on artificial irrigation.” the newspaper quoted B G Chakroborty, president of the Confederation of Indian Small Tea Growers Association, as saying.
Pest infiltration is also high, says the Association. Output in February-March is down 50 per cent when compared to the same periods last year, Chakraborty told the newspaper.
First-flush production requires adequate winter rain. It accounts for nearly a fifth of production in the Terai, Dooars and Darjeeling belt; in terms of value, it is around 35 per cent. The trans-Himalayan region accounts for nearly 28 per cent of national production, the newspaper said.