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Tea output in South hit by poor prices

Tea companies reckon that unless the prices pick up, the industry will be in dire straits.

, ET Bureau|
Dec 04, 2019, 11.48 AM IST
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Kochi: South Indian tea production has been hit by poor prices, stagnant output and high wages. The tea companies reckon that unless the prices pick up, the industry will be in dire straits.

South Indian tea plantation is mainly concentrated in Tamil Nadu, which accounts for a majority share, followed by Kerala. Changes in weather pattern have been a major source of worry.

“In five years to 2018, the Tamil Nadu tea output shrank by 15 million kg to 158 million kg,’’ said Pradeep Sukumar, secretary of The Planters’ Association of Tamil Nadu.

As per Tea Board figures, south Indian tea production for January- October in 2019 was 179.16 million kg, nearly 6.4 million kg lower year-on-year.

“With unseasonal rains in Tamil Nadu, it remains to be seen whether the production will catch up in the remaining months. Usually, October to December are lean months,’’ he said.

Unprecedented climate changes have affected output. “Earlier, 55 per cent of the annual output used to happen in the first six months. Now we see the same amount of output in the second half of the year,’’ said Anil George Joseph, vice-president, tea, Harrisons Malayalam.

High wages have added to the cost of production in Kerala. Wage revision negotiations are currently underway.

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