Southern Indian tea industry seeks ‘corona-cured’ label for the Nilgiris

Tea industry in the Nilgiris, the largest tea growing district in South India, has appealed to the authorities to declare the Nilgiris as ‘Corona-cured’ district, reports Hindu BusinessLine. This follows an announcement by the Nilgiris district Collector Innocent Divya that all the nine persons who had tested positive in the district were fully cured and that there is no corona case in the district now.

“The tea industry is excited that this has happened because we have been manufacturing tea strictly adhering to the Covid-19 safety norms,” L Vairavan, Secretary, the Nilgiris Bought Leaf Tea Manufacturers’ Association, said.

Small growers are equally thrilled. “Ever since we were allowed to carry on our field operations, we have been maintaining social distancing, application of sanitizers and undergoing regular medical tests,” Ramesh Chander, President, the Nilgiris Small Tea Growers’ Association, said.

“If the authorities declare the Nilgiris as ‘corona cured’, it will help us regain our status in the global tea market,” he said.

Meanwhile active participation of tea exporters to CIS countries and other destinations has lifted prices of orthodox leaf teas at Kochi auctions.

According to traders, 81 per cent of the total 1,79,986.90 kg in Sale 16 was sold, witnessing a good demand. The market for Nilgiri whole leaf and brokens was firm to dearer by longer margin of Rs. 5-10 a kg and sometimes more.

However, the average price realisation was lower at Rs. 125.94 per kg compared to Rs. 132.77 in the previous week due to increased sales percentage. There was a good sale for low-priced teas as well. In CTC leaf, the market for blacker brokens and Fannings was dearer by Rs. 5-10, while others barely remained steady. The quantity offered was 58,522 kg and 91 per cent of the offerings was sold. Kerala and upcountry buyers were active, while exporters operated at lower level and covered small quantity.

Shekhar Ghosh is a communications consultant and and former journalist, who has edited and written for publications such as like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today and Outlook.

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