Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Thursday, Apr 08, 2004
Agri-Biz & Commodities
Industry & Economy - Natural Calamities
Drought hits tea production in South
Wellington (Nilgiris) , April 7
AN assessment made by the United Planters Association of Southern India (UPASI) has revealed that the Jan-April 2004 crop will be lower by 10.5 million kg (mkg), a 16.8 per cent drop in comparison with the corresponding period last year.
"This would mean that South Indian tea crop would be lower for the fourth successive year with total production estimated at around 180 mkg in 2004 as compared with 193 mkg in 2003,'' Mr D.P. Maheswari, Chairman, UPASI Tea Committee, said.
Total South India production during 2002 stood at 194.4 mkg, while production for the year 2001 stood at 203.1 mkg.
UPASI has attributed the severe drought situation that prevails in all the planting districts of South India for the drop in tea production.
"The drought situation had accentuated wilting and drying of bushes and there are reports of tissue damage, which means the damage would have lasting effect. The combination of high temperature and low humidity in particular is said to be harming the tea crop significantly,'' UPASI officials said.
While the March crop is substantially lower by about 32 per cent, the April crop, one among the peak crop production months, is expected to be lower by almost 18 per cent.
As per UPASI data, during March the region wise production indicates that in Meppadi (Wayanad), crop is lower by 57 per cent, followed by Valpari, 55 per cent, Vandiperiyar 48 per cent, high ranges (Munnar) 36 per cent and the Nilgiris 12 per cent.
"While there is a considerable squeeze in the supply position, the demand, especially the trends in export looks brighter since November 2003. During January and February, exports from South India were 14.1 mkg compared with 9.3 mkg reported during the corresponding period last year,'' Mr Maheswari said.
The drop in production notwithstanding, he opined that the revival of the tea industry was in sight.
"With tea crop in all the major producing countries reporting a decline during January as against a revival in international demand for tea, increase in exports might bring back much needed solace to the beleaguered South Indian tea industry,'' he added.
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