• Assam Small Tea Growers Pledge To Grow Clean Tea | North India Tea Production Lower by 60 Percent

    By Aravinda Anantharaman | Managing Editor

    India Tea News for the week ending June 28, 2024
    India Tea News | Aravinda Anantharaman
    Application of pesticides in tea fields
    Application of pesticides in tea fields

    Assam Small Tea Growers Pledge To Grow Clean Tea

    The All Assam Small Tea Growers’ Association has pledged to work to improve the quality of Assam tea. The association has appealed to its members to stop using banned pesticides. They are conducting workshops to raise awareness about tea safety and permissible pesticides. And seem keen to change the perception that small tea growers are dragging down the quality of tea. Some samples of green leaf from small tea growers got a clean chit after testing at the Tea Research Association at Jorhat. What they seek in return for producing clean leaf is remunerative prices.

    India Tea Production for 2024 Sees 60 Million Kilo Decline

    The Tea Association of India has issued a press release to raise concerns about the drastic drop in tea production in north India in the first and second flush. The cause has been the severe lack of rainfall and excessive heat which this region has seen all year. The Association estimates a reduction of around 60 million kilograms by the end of June 2024, compared to the same period last year. By April, Assam had an 8% drop compared to the same period last year, while West Bengal saw a 13% decline. Things took a turn for the worse in May, with a 20% and 40% drop in production compared to 2023 in Assam and West Bengal, respectively. While West Bengal saw a 50% to 80% reduction in rainfall in major tea districts, Assam saw a 10% to 30% shortfall. It also means possible heavy monsoons with above-normal rainfall that further exacerbate the situation.

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  • Iran Halts Tea Imports From India | NETA Asks for Ban on Six Pesticides | Kangra Tea Seeks Interventions From State Government

    By Aravinda Anantharaman | Editor

    India Tea News for the week ending June 7, 2024

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    Iran halts India tea imports
    Iran halts Indian tea imports, forcing growers and traders to find new markets.

    Iran Halts Tea Imports From India

    Iran, one of India’s big tea markets, has suddenly halted imports of tea and rice from India. No reason was given, although government officials have been quoted as saying this could be a retaliatory response as India stopped imports of kiwi and peaches from Iran. Another point raised was that Iran wanted India to restart buying oil. The Mint reported that Iran’s rice imports for April- September 2023 stood at $641.66 million, while tea imports for January- September 2023 stood at $66.39 million, valued second to the UAE. The tea bodies are waiting for Iran’s responses on the reasons for stopping imports.

    NETA Asks For Ban On Six Pesticides

    Representatives from the North Eastern Tea Association have submitted a memorandum to the state agriculture minister with an appeal to prohibit the stock, sale, and distribution of six pesticides – Cypermethrin, Acephate, Imidacloprid, Acetamiprid, Dinotefuran, and Fipronil. These pesticides are banned for tea, and the association said that testing of teas showed MRL ( maximum residue levels) residues indicating the use of these chemicals. The association said that these six pesticides contributed to much of the problems attached to the lack of food safety compliance.

    Kangra Tea Seeks Government Intervention

    The Kangra tea industry is awaiting some interventions from the state government to revive and promote their tea industry. The land under tea cultivation and crop have dropped significantly in recent years as it has been losing its viability. Three of the four government factories also remain closed. The tea association here has asked for greater support, especially in increasing the state’s tea tourism opportunities.

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  • India’s First Flush is Finished | Workers Protest Decision to Close Bought Leaf Factories in Assam | North Bengal Producers Want Tea Named India’s National Drink

    By Aravinda Anantharaman | Managing Editor

    India Tea News for the week ending May 24, 2024

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    India first flush finishes with low yield
    India’s first flush finishes with lower than average yield

    First Flush 2024

    The first harvest or flush has ended, and we are looking at how India fared this year. Across the country, a long, dry winter and late rains that fluctuate between too little and too much have affected crops. Overall, it appears that North India saw a decrease in yield by as much as 35-50% compared to the same period last year. Prices have not been commensurate.

    Darjeeling experienced a long dry spell. The much-needed January rain did not show up this year. The problem of cheap tea imports from Nepal continues unchecked. Planters have been calling for checks on Nepal imports, better import testing, and protection of the Darjeeling heritage. This year saw more garden closures, which is expected to impact production, which saw one of its recent lows at 6.18 mn kilos last year.

    In Sikkim, the first flush was delayed by 3-4 weeks due to late rains, which caused a late harvest. The second flush began earlier—by about two weeks—because of rising temperatures. Crop volume has also dropped here.

    In Assam, production has dropped, as compared with last year, by close to 35%. March crop was down by 14mn kilos. Lack of rain has brought crop loss. The order to route 100% dust via auctions, while still not seen as beneficial by the planters, continues. However, prices are going up compared to last year. In the most recent Sale 21, two teas from Deckiajuli fetched upwards of Rs 600/ kilo – the BP grade sold for Rs 605 while PF grade sold for Rs 651.

    Kangra experienced dry weather, and the crop was down. Production of the green tea, which is a highlight here, was delayed. Demand and prices are low.

    South India has seen some better crops despite late rains and a hot summer. In March, the Nilgiris saw an increase of nearly 3 million kilos over 2023. Its traditional export markets of Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and CIS countries have been active, and Orthodox offerings have been doing well. However, currently, the region is seeing a long dry spell, which will impact crop production in the coming weeks.

    Assam BLFs to close June 1st

    The pesticide issue continues to plague Assam, and the Assam Bought Leaf Manufacturers Association, representing 110 factories, has said it will stop production on June 1st. The association states that buyers have refused their teas because of pesticide concerns. The Bought Leaf Factories say they have no control over pesticide use by small tea growers. Meanwhile, the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangh has rallied the workers and held several protests. In Moran, workers gathered at the Bamunbari and Khowang gardens owned by Andrew Yule to protest against nonpayment of wages for several months. In Dibrugarh, protests were seen at the Basmatia Tea Estate.

    Make Tea A National Drink

    On May 21st, the North Bengal Tea Producers’ Welfare Association (NBTPWA) called for declaring tea India’s “national drink.” During the Tea Day celebrations in Siliguri, the association distributed 5,000 cups of tea. They seek to make tea attractive to youth and increase tea consumption.

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  • BBTC’s Singampatti Group Ceases Operations at Oothu, Manjolai, Manimuttar Estates | ABLTMA Launches Mobile Testing Lab | New Tea Disease Discovered in Assam

    By Aravinda Anantharaman | Managing Editor

    India Tea News for the week ending June 21, 2024
    India Tea News | Aravinda Anantharaman
    Ep173_India News Update_21June2024
    Oothu Organic Tea Estate and Factory Closes

    BBTC’s Singampatti Group Ceases Operations

    The Bombay Burmah Tea Corporation’s Singampatti Group ceased operations on June 15th. The Group included the estates of Manjolai, Manimuttar, and Oothu, located in the Tirunelveli district in south India, at the southern tip of the Western Ghats. The reason for ceasing operations is the end of the 99-year land lease. The Forest Department issued an eviction notice with a phased plan for withdrawal. The BBTC company has been around for 150 years, and the Singampatti estates are renowned for their natural beauty and progressive efforts to maintain the area’s biodiversity. The Oothu Tea Estate has been completely organic since 1988, producing about 1mn kilos annually. In a LinkedIn post, the GM of Tea Operations, Asgar Hussain, was quoted as saying the company’s primary concern was for the future and welfare of its employees. “For a company like BBTC, which has conducted the tea business for the past 150 years with honesty and dedication, the stab is far deeper than we can comprehend. Oothu produced one of the finest Orthodox Organic with a Global customer base.”

    For more on the Singampatti group, read this blog by planter Manoj Archibald.

    Assam Gets Mobile Residue Testing Lab

    Following the recent concerns about pesticide residue in tea and the need to address it, the Assam Bought Leaf Tea Manufacturer’s Association launched a state-of-the-art mobile residue testing laboratory earlier this week. This has been set up in collaboration with Eurofins Analytical Services India, which has the necessary instruments to test green tea leaves and made tea. The lab was inaugurated by Bimal Borah, Minister of State for Commerce and Public Enterprises.

    New Tea Disease Detected In Assam

    A team of scientists, led by Prof. Piyush Pandey from the Assam University in Silchar, has reported the discovery of a tea disease. The research was conducted over two years, and the Assam Tribune reported the story. The disease is a leaf necrosis caused by a fungus known as Lasiodiplodia theobromae, and it is reportedly similar to another fungal disease caused by Corticum. This new research is expected to help improve the treatment and control to save the leaves.

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  • India Orders Testing of Every Batch of Imported Nepal Tea | Tata Reports Greater Shift to Premiumization | India Halts Exports to West Asia

    By Aravinda Anantharaman | Managing Editor

    India Tea News for the week ending April 26, 2024
    India Tea News | Aravinda Anantharaman
    Nepal Truck enroute to India
    Nepal truck en route to India

    Tea from Nepal Stopped for Testing

    After repeated urging from Darjeeling’s tea planters, the Centre has issued a circular stating that every batch of tea entering India from Nepal must be tested for pesticide residues. Until now, Customs has tested a small percentage of the samples randomly. With the new amendment, every batch comes under scrutiny. The testing is done at the National Food Laboratory, Kolkata, and takes 15 days. This means the trucks carrying the tea will remain at the roadside awaiting results. Nepal depends on India as over 90% of its tea is exported here. However, Darjeeling’s tea planters have insisted that the Centre stop Nepal tea imports as it has affected both the quality of tea sold as Darjeeling tea (blended with Nepal tea) and prices. Further, India pays a 40% import duty on Nepal tea, while Nepal is not obliged to pay any for imports from India following a trade agreement. Non-compliance to food safety standards is a pressing concern in the Indian tea industry. – Kathmandu Post

    Tata Reports Revenue from Premium and Sub-Premium Brands

    Money Control has reported that premium and sub-premium brands brought over two-thirds of Tata Consumer Products’ revenue for the financial year that just ended. Tata Tea Gold, Tata Tea Premium, and Tetley Green Tea performed well, with e-commerce driving sales. It is a sign that consumers seek better quality tea via recognized brands. Informist Media has reported that in the financial year ending March 2023, TCPL bought 20.7 mn kilos of tea from North Indian auction centers, averaging Rs 170 per kilo. The market leader, Hindustan Unilever, bought 51.3 mn kilos at an average price of Rs 179.6 per kilo. Lower prices at auctions indicate that both companies stand to earn higher margins.

    India Halts Tea Exports to West Asia

    As tensions increase between Iran and Israel, Indian tea sellers have halted exports to Iran and the Middle East. Shipping companies are also expected to stay away from these ports. This will be a setback for Indian tea as Iran—once a major buyer—is also a gateway to West Asian countries.

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