1. Home
  2. Agriculture World

Kerala Growers Face Crisis Due to Sudden Drop in Price of Tea Leaves

On Friday, the spot price for green leaves was Rs 10 per kilogram, compared to Rs 17 per kilogram during the same time last year.

Chintu Das
Tea Garden Worker
Tea Garden Worker

Due to a dramatic drop in the price of green tea leaves, a labor scarcity, and a lack of public sector factories processing tea, small tea growers in Kerala are in a crisis. On Friday, the spot price for green leaves was Rs 10 per kilogram, compared to Rs 17 per kilogram during the same time last year.

According to K.C. Krishanadas, secretary of the Wayanad Small Tea Growers Association (WSSTGA), "the farmers are obliged to sell their produce at a low price to agents from the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu State due to the lack of tea processing factories in the public sector in the State."

During the COVID-19 pandemic last year, he added, "We had gotten a better price for the produce, but the present price in the market is not remunerative, as the production cost has now doubled." Concerns include both the growing inputs and labor scarcity.

According to K. Hassan, a small-scale tea planter in Karadippara, a farmer needs to make at least Rs 20 per kilogram to survive.

According to the WSSTGA's data, the tea industry provides a living for up to 16,000 small tea growers, including 10,000 farmers in Idukki and 6,000 farmers in the Wayanad districts. Many of them own between 50 cents and five acres of land.

In Wayanad alone, the daily production of green tea leaves is close to 80,000 kg. However, Mr. Krishanadas said that the district's 11 privately owned tea manufacturers could only buy 50,000 kg each day.

He claimed that the agents were getting the remainder at a discount from the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu.

A farmer would earn Rs 4,500 from an acre's typical produce, which is 450 kg per month. However, according to Mr. Krishnadas, he must spend between Rs 1,500 and Rs 2,000 for fertilizer and other supplies and Rs 3,200 as a plucking fee.

Small-scale tea producers would benefit greatly if the government set up a public factory and offered value-added goods through retail outlets under a brand name, according to M.A. Peter, president of WSSTGA.

Even though they had made numerous proposals to the government and Tea Board to set a minimum support price for the produce, Mr. Peter claimed that the latter had not yet taken them into account. For their continued existence, the farmers also urged that the MGNREGS include the small-scale tea industry.

Take a Quiz on Green Revolution Take a quiz
Share your comments
FactCheck in Agriculture Project

Subscribe to our Newsletter. You choose the topics of your interest and we'll send you handpicked news and latest updates based on your choice.

Subscribe Newsletters