Dipping down . Heatwaves, lack of rain take a toll on tea production in North Indian estates

In the month of April this year, total crop in North India was down by 8.74 mkg at 63.71 mkg compared with 72.45 mkg last year
The severe weather conditions including heatwaves and lack of adequate rains in the North Indian tea growing regions including Assam and West Bengal have impacted production of the crop affecting both quality and quantity.
In April this year, total crop in North India was down by 8.74 million kg (mkg) at 63.71 mkg compared with 72.45 mkg last year. However, during January-April 2023, the total crop in North India was marginally up by 5.63 mkg (4 per cent) at 132.13 mkg. The crop in South India was down by 8.08 mkg at 59.85 mkg during January-April 2023 over the same period a year ago. So the country’s total production was down by 2.45 mkg at 191.98 mkg (194.43 mkg) during the said period.
According to senior industry experts, erratic weather patterns, extreme temperatures and insufficient rainfall have severely affected both the quality and quantity of tea production. In addition to climate challenges, the industry is facing subdued demand in both domestic and international markets, the Tea Association of India (TAI) said.
During May 2023, Assam registered nearly 30-40 per cent shortfall in rains while in North Bengal it was down by 15-25 per cent. While production in Assam in May is estimated to be up by around 15-20 per cent, the same in Dooars is likely to be down by 18-20 per cent and in Darjeeling by nearly 35 per cent. “The outlook does not look very good. There were poor rains in May and in June now we have had some showers. The first flush crop was badly affected. If rainfall picks up in the ensuing days then we can expect production of second flush crop to pick up,” Sujit Patra, past secretary of Indian Tea Association told businessline.
Prices firming up
The lower crop has led to firming up of prices across various auction centres. According to data available on the Tea Board of India Website, the average prices of CTC leaf and dust for the week ending June 3, was up by nearly 5 per cent at around Rs.199 a kg at the Kolkata auction centre; around 13 per cent up at Rs.207 a kg at the Guwahati auction centre; nearly 9 per cent up at Rs.131 a kg at the Cochin auction centre and almost 11 per cent up at Rs.93 a kg at the Coonoor auction centre.
Domestic tea production during calendar year 2022 remained flat on a year-on-year basis and was nearly 4 per cent lower compared to pre-Covid levels (CY2019). Consecutive three years of lower production, post CY2019, along with significant increase in exports in CY2022, would keep the domestic pipeline stock at a low level and in turn provide some support to prices in the new season till at least the peak production months of July-August, a recent report by ICRA had said.