Indian Tea Body Sees 4% Dip In 02 Output

Kolkata, Aug 25: | Updated: Aug 26 2002, 05:30am hrs
Tea production in India is expected to fall nearly four per cent in 2002 to around 822 million kg, officials said on Saturday.

The Indian Tea Association (ITA) chairman Bharat Bajoria told reporters that the fall was largely due to heavy rains affecting output in the North- Eastern state of Assam, the countrys largest tea-producing province.

Hundreds of people died from drowning and disease after unusually heavy monsoon rains flooded half the state in July. In 2001, India produced 854 million kg of tea, of which 179.79 million kg was exported, 13 per cent less than in 2000.

The Tea Board chairman NK Das said the Indian tea industry was facing a "short-term crisis" and production would be lower this year. The average auction price fell just over 20 per cent to Rs 51.60 per kg in the first six months of 2002 from a year ago.

"We are concerned, the government is concerned, the industry is concerned. Countries like Vietnam and Bangladesh are becoming more competitive in exports," Mr Das said.

Indian tea exports fell three per cent from a year ago to 74.1 million kg in January-June 2002 due to stiff competition from countries like Bangladesh and Indonesia.

Sri Lanka, by contrast, exported 120.4 million kg in the first five months of 2002, one per cent more than in 2001. The Tea Board said it was not certain that Indias export target of 200 million kg this year would be met.

"We hope that it will be around 195 million kg to 200 million kg. It is too early to say," Mr Das added.