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11 Feb 2017

Worry over tea price

Avijit Sinha, TT, Siliguri, Feb. 10: Stakeholders of the north Bengal tea industry today said brew produced by most of the gardens in the Dooars and the Terai had fetched prices lower than the cost of the production.
Sandeep Singhania, the chairman, north Bengal sub-committee of the Tea Association of India, today said though their had been a marginal increase in the average prices of tea (produced both in tea estates and bought leaf factories) in the Dooars and the Terai in 2016 compared to 2015, the rise in the cost of production had left most of the gardens in a critical situation.
"Out of the 273 tea estates in north Bengal, only three have been able to achieve a price of Rs 200 or more per kg at the Siliguri Tea Auction Centre. Only 30 gardens got the price between the range of Rs 175 and Rs 200 per kg and 70 other gardens fetched Rs 150-Rs 175 per kg. Almost 200 gardens sold tea for less than Rs 150. The statistics indicate that majority of the gardens sell tea below the cost of production," Singhania told the 46th annual general meeting of the association at the Planters' Club in Nagrakata, around 70 km from here, today.
A senior representative of the association said the average cost of production in a garden in the Terai and the Dooars was around Rs 150.
"There has always been a distress in the Terai and Dooars tea industry. But these days, the situation has become critical for most of the gardens. However, in Assam, where CTC tea is also produced, the profitability is much higher as the produce fetches better prices," he said.
The data produced by the association show that as per the figures available with the STAC, the average tea price for the gardens in the Dooars and the Terai was Rs 129.63 per kilo in 2016, which is marginally higher than the average price of Rs 120.20 in 2015.
"The annual increase in the tea prices over the past eight to 10 years has been at an average rate of five per cent compared to an approximate rise of 12 per cent in prices of other major food items," Singhania said.

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