Delayed rainfall likely to affect Assam tea production

March 16th, 2012 - 12:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, March 16 (IANS) Delayed rainfall in the northeast is likely to affect the overall tea production in Assam this year.

The deficient rainfall in Assam this year has already delayed the arrival of the first flush of tea leaves, which is considered to be very important for the overall production.

Assam accounts for 13 percent of the world’s tea production and around 800 tea gardens in Assam account for 51 percent of India’s annual tea production. Last year, the state had recorded bumper production of 508.74 million kgs (mkgs).

“Normally the first flush of leaves are expected in the beginning of March followed by the second flush in April. There is insufficient rainfall this year and it’s not a good sign for production. Now we are expecting the first flush by the end of this month,” said A. Rajkhowa, a tea grower based in Assam’s Golaghat district, told IANS.

Almost all the tea plantations in Assam are suffering this year due to the delayed rain and most of the tea planters are finding it difficult to keep their gardens green.

Mridul Hazarika, director of Tocklai Experimental Station (TES) - a premier tea research organization located at Tocklai in upper Assam’s Jorhat district expressing concern over the situation, said: “The production is likely to suffer due to lack of sufficient rainfall this year. We are collecting all the data regarding rain deficiency. The first flush of tea has already been delayed.”

While the big tea gardens are resorting to artificial irrigation to keep the plantations green, the small gardens and plantations are finding it difficult to do so. “The small tea growers are not in a position to make arrangements for irrigation and only about five percent of them are using spring coolers in their gardens,” said Karuna Mahanta, general secretary of the All Assam Small Tea Growers’ Association (AASTGA).

Mahanta also said that the conditions are worse in northern Assam districts where there was hardly any rainfall during February.

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