T he Indian tea industry has not only grown but also undergone substantial changes over the years. It has faced several challenges due to climate change, declining soil fertility, old age plantations and stagnation of yield level, political and labour issues.
The cost of production has gone up by almost 50 per cent over the past 10 years. Earlier, in the mid-2000s, many large companies like Tata and Hindustan Unilever exited the plantation business to concentrate on marketing. The mantra to survive the tea plantation business is to adopt best practices to beat all odds.
“The industry should adopt technology and innovative strategies for cost-effective production of tea,” says Prabhat K. Bezboruah, chairman, Tea Board of India.
He was recently speaking on a webinar on “Roadmap for Revival in the Tea Sector” organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce. He also pointed out that branding and promotion of the product is the need of the hour for the Indian tea industry.
The Tea Board has been facing an acute problem of getting funds from the Central government, which in the past five years has been ‘static’. The Tea Board spends 90 per cent of its fund received from the government on subsidy. There is a backlog of replantation subsidy.
Given the current financial situation, Arun Kumar Ray, deputy chairman, Tea Board of India says, “We have taken a decision that replantation has been kept in abeyance till further announcement.” The average productive lifespan of a tea tree is 50 years. It needs to be replaced with new saplings after that to get better yield. Both, Bezboruah and Ray urged the industry to stand on its own feet.
Reacting to the freezing of replantation subsidy by the Tea Board, Rohit Lohia, director, Chamong Tea says, “When the industry is going through a tough time, abeyance is not a good idea. This will affect future production.”
he Indian tea industry has not only grown but also undergone substantial changes over the years. It has faced several challenges due to climate change, declining soil fertility, old age plantations and stagnation of yield level, political and labour issues.