Its brewing woes for Assams tea industry

New Delhi, Sep 26 | Updated: Sep 27 2007, 06:25am hrs
Tea companies in Assam, which have been struggling to cope with the rise in cost of production and losses in international markets, are now in even deeper trouble after the recent three waves of floods coupled with pest attacks.

With the unprecedented floods taking its toll in almost all the tea gardens, especially in the Barak Valley, the Assam tea industry has seen a decline in production of 2 million kg of tea, from 2,20,560 thousand kg to 2,18,128 thousand kg till August this year.

The tea industry of Barak Valley, which accounts for around 120 gardens 70% of them owned by the Tea Association of India (TAI), was under a recession since 1999, but was showing signs of comeback till August this year by posting an increase in production of tea by 1 million kg over last year. This comeback was at a time when the tea industry of Assam valley (Brahmaputra Valley) had posted a decline of 3 million kg. But the unprecedented floods have turned the tables now, as it is raining woes for the entire tea industry. With rail communication already cut off between Barak Valley and other parts of the state since June this year following collapse of a bridge in North Cachar Hills, the road communication too was snapped on 27 July when a 300 mts stretch of National Highway was damaged at Sonapur near Jowai in Meghalaya, thus cutting off Barak Valley, Tripura and Mizoram completely from the rest of the country.

After undertaking repair works, though the National Highway was opened a week later, fresh and unprecedented floods in Barak valley since the first week of September wrecked havoc. Many arterial as well as interior roads were damaged or washed away by the floodwaters, thus cutting off many parts of the valley completely from rest of the country.