Tea production down marginally in July

Export volume, value increase.
C.J. Punnathara

Kochi, Sept. 7 With the country facing a major shortfall in tea production this year, much will depend on the coming North-East monsoon. Depending on the intensity and spread of the coming rains, the shortfall can either be mitigated or worsened, Mr N. Dharmaraj, Vice-President for Tea, Harrisons Malayalam, said.
But however good be the coming monsoon, sources in the industry were united in stating that the shortfall is quite unlikely to be fully bridged this year.
Indian tea production registered a 15.7-million kg shortfall during January-July against the corresponding period last year.
Production during July was more or less stable, registering a shortfall of 0.3 million kg.
While acknowledging that some of the production deficit during January-April period could be made up, sources in UPASI warned that the lower intensity and lesser reach of the South-West monsoon this year is likely to lead to increased soil moisture stress in the coming months and the shortfall is expected to widen.
The coming N-E monsoon, which brings extensive rains to the tea-growing regions of North-East and South India, holds the key to tea production this year.
India’s tea exports have registered a fall of 15 million kg during the January-July period over last year.
During July it was up nearly a million kg to 19.47 million kg.
Tea production for the first seven months of the current year was 460.88 million kg as against 476.63 million kg last year. July production fell to 126.98 million kg as against 130.95 million kg last year.
South India seems to have accounted for the bulk of the shortfall at 8.95 million kg till July while North India, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the total Indian production, fell by 6.79 million kg.
The difference between South and North Indian production is expected to widen as heavy rains lashed North-East India in the first week of September.
But the rains in late July could result in lower deficit in August in the South Indian tea plantations.
However, the fall in exports has been more than made up by increased unit value realisation, which resulted in the total value realisation from tea exports spurting up. While the volume of tea exports fell, average unit value realisation went up to Rs 133 a kg, up from Rs 106 a kg last year. With a global deficit expected to grow this year, the demand-supply mismatch could widen, and prices are expected to remain firm in the domestic and international markets.