Southern tea plantations, auctions partially resume operations

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Published: April 11, 2020 4:00 AM

India is the second-largest producer of tea in the world and contributes 26% to the global production.

However, free movement of tea within and across the states has been severely constrained despite tea being an essential commodity.However, free movement of tea within and across the states has been severely constrained despite tea being an essential commodity. (Representative image)

Tea plantations and auctions have resumed partial operations in south India, providing relief to consumers and tea producers. However, free movement of tea within and across the states has been severely constrained despite tea being an essential commodity.

India is the second-largest producer of tea in the world and contributes 26% to the global production.

The Kerala government exempted plantations from the purview of the current lockdown from April 6, with operations at several plantations including crop maintenance, harvesting, processing halted abruptly. The rules have been relaxed with several riders.

R Sanjit, secretary of United Planters’ Association of Southern India (Upasi) told FE that tea plantations in south India have partially commenced operations following the social distancing norms and hygiene requirements.

“However, the auctions, except Cochin, are yet to commence operations. Further, though there are advisories on free movement of essential items (both inter-state and for export) at ground level it is not happening, despite tea despite being an essential item. These issues have led to severe cash flow issues for the sector, requiring more working capital at concessional terms,” he added.

Ajith Balakrishnan, secretary, Association of Planters of Kerala (APK) said the lockdown that started on March 24 has badly hit the cash flow of plantations and tea traders. The last auction held in the third week of March could not sell all the tea that came for auctioneering.

“A drop in export demand and lockdown of operations and transportation for more than 13 days have hit the sector badly. Stocks held in the pipeline and lesser export demand has also affected the stakeholders in the tea sector,” he added.

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