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Lack of Potash will have a Negative Impact on Tea Plantations

The recent shortage of Muriate of Potash (MOP) and a significant increase in its prices has put tea planters in South India in a fix. MOP is an important nutrient for a crop like tea because it aids in the formation of branches, which are essential for a tea plant.

Shivam Dwivedi
Tea Plantation
Tea Plantation

The recent shortage of Muriate of Potash (MOP) and a significant increase in its prices has put tea planters in South India in a fix. MOP is an important nutrient for a crop like tea because it aids in the formation of branches, which are essential for a tea plant.

However, the lack of manure is having a negative impact on plantations because the time window for applying it is rapidly closing due to the withdrawal of rains, according to industry sources.

Major Concerns:

Planters are concerned as MOP prices have risen to around $34,000 per tonne. In the previous month, the price was $20,800 per tonne, inclusive of 5% GST, and the increase was nearly 63 percent. The annual MOP requirement for tea plantations is estimated to be 40,371 tonnes.

A minimum of four to five rounds of manuring are required per year, according to sources. As a result, the price increase is concerning, as the cost per kg will rise from $20 to $35. Given the circumstances, the source believes that plantations in south India will be forced to restrict the use of MOP, which will have an impact on total tea production as well as long-term consequences for tea bushes that will become unhealthy.

M.P. Cherian, President of UPASI, stated that the planters' organization has requested the intervention of the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers to expedite the release of fertilizer to plantation-growing southern states. He has also requested that the government intervene in order to assist the sector in obtaining MOP at lower prices.

Transportation of imported MOP

According to highly placed sources in the plantation sector in Kerala, approximately 30,000 tonnes of imported MOP has been sitting idle at the Kakinada Port in Andhra Pradesh for the last two and a half months.

Manure is not being delivered to South Indian destinations due to a lack of rail rakes, according to reports. The timely delivery of cargo from the port is expected to resolve the crisis across plantations, particularly in Kerala, which requires around 6,000 tonnes this season, according to the sources.

Kakinada Port officials have also confirmed the presence of cargo in the port area and have stated that transportation will begin soon.

According to a senior official at a major tea manufacturing company, plantations are already in crisis due to a variety of issues, and the fertilizer shortage will force companies to drastically reduce plant inputs, affecting production. However, he went on to say that the new situation will have no effect on tea retail prices because pricing is determined by so many different factors.

According to N. Lakshmanan Chettiar, a tea planter in Madurai, the current scenario of an increase in the price of potash will have severe ramifications on the financials of the plantation sector, particularly tea, in the short and long term. During the last three months, international potash prices have risen while the Indian rupee has fallen in value.

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