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Tea production up a tad, exports decline

Kohinoor Mandal

Output in South down 1.6%; North registers 5.8% growth

Kolkata , March 10

Tea production in the country during 2005 registered a marginal growth of four per cent but exports dropped by 10 million kg (mkg) to end at 187.6 mkg against 197.6 mkg in 2004.

However, net exports from the country (total exports minus total imports) registered a growth, which Indian Tea Association (ITA) claimed, is a good and positive sign for the industry.

According to the statistics issued by ITA, the apex industry body, production in North India during 2005 registered a growth of 5.8 per cent to 700.9 mkg against 662.2 mkg in 2004. Production in South India dropped by 1.6 per cent to 227 mkg against 230.7 mkg in 2004. Interestingly the major tea exporting nations like Sri Lanka, Kenya and Indonesia registered nominal growth in production last year. The industry suffered heavily on the export front. Average price realisation and total earnings, both, dropped. In 2004, the average price for the export market was Rs 93.17 a kg but it dropped to Rs 90.49 a kg. Total earnings fell to Rs 1,697.67 crore from Rs 1,841.13 crore.

Exporters suffered in almost all the major markets such as Russia, Kazhakstan, Poland, Kenya and Turkey among others. However, it gained substantially in Pakistan and Iraq. The trend is also positive for Iran.

Imports of tea dropped. From 30.80 mkg in 2004, it slid to 16.47 mkg. In 2004, net tea exports were 166.8 mkg. In 2005 it increased 171.13 mkg.

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