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Tripura's Tea Planters Struggle with Crop Loss & Plummeting Prices

Tea planters in Tripura are experiencing a "shortage" of production as a result of the northeastern state's protracted dry period, with "falling" crop prices putting pressure on margins, stakeholders said on Sunday.

Shivam Dwivedi
Tripura's Tea Planters Struggle with Crop Loss & Plummeting Prices
Tripura's Tea Planters Struggle with Crop Loss & Plummeting Prices

Tea plantations, the state's second major business after rubber, are experiencing "crop loss" this season due to a drought-like environment, according to Tripura Tea Development Corporation (TTDC) chairman Santosh Saha. "Drought-like conditions have hampered our production."

There is a scarcity of leaves, and the volume of auctions has decreased. "It is difficult for us to make a profit," he told. The state-owned TTDC operates five estates and two manufacturing plants with an annual capacity of eight lakh kilogrammes.

Tripura produces 90 lakh kg of tea per year. "There is no government support price for tea, as there is for paddy. This system is in place throughout the country," Saha stated. Prabir De, manager of Manu Valley tea garden in Unakoti district, said the protracted rainless time has harmed production in the state, but despite the scarcity, selling prices have "come down to Rs 200 per kg from Rs 300 last year." Manu Valley tea estate is Tripura's largest garden, producing more than 15 lakh kg each year. "The production cost per kg is now Rs 160-170."

In general, we sell tea for Rs 300 per kg in April or May, and Rs 150 in October. So this is the moment to generate profits and make up for the loss in October," De told. Large planters can manage the loss to some level, but small growers are having difficulty dealing with the issue, according to him. There are 52 private-run gardens and 22 tea facilities in the northeastern state, but only 13 are currently operational due to a lack of leaves, he said.

When reached, Tuhin Debnath, Tea Board factory advisory officer, stated, "Assessments for crop loss are underway. We currently have no data. As a result, I am unable to estimate the actual amount of crop loss caused by the drought. "Sumedha Das, proprietor of Shova tea plantation, said, "In 2013, the cash component of a laborer's compensation was Rs 58 per day, in addition to free meals and lodging."

In addition to other benefits, the daily wage of a worker has been doubled to Rs 176. Coal prices have risen to Rs 20 per kilogramme, up from Rs 13 per kg three years ago. However, the price of tea is not rising. She said that the government of adjoining Assam gave Rs 63.05 crore to 370 tea gardens as a financial incentive to help them minimize the negative impact of the pandemic, but "no incentive has been given to tea planters in Tripura."

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