70 percent tea gardens in Bengal not making profits: Tea Association

Kolkata, Oct 3 (IANS) Nearly 70 percent of tea gardens in West Bengal are not making any profit due to various factors besides tea prices going down, an industry body said here on Saturday.

“Prices have gone down by Rs. 9 a kg while wages have increased,” Tea Association of India president Vijay Dhandhania told media persons here.

According to the association, between 2000-2015, cost of production has escalated by more than 200 percent while price realizations remained stagnant till 2007.

“From 2008-15 only, prices increased by 51 percent but comparing to the increase in input costs, the price rise is not sufficing,” said association secretary general P.K. Bhattacharjee.

As per the industry body’s data, while cost of production of tea ranges from Rs.145-155 a kg, the prices it are fetching in the auctions are anywhere near Rs.135 a kg.

Bhattacharjee said the mean price of high grade teas is getting affected during the auctions as low grade leaves are making their way.

“Prices to a large extent depends on the market sentiment and once low grade teas fetches low price during the auctions, it automatically affects the prices of quality teas,” he said.

Dhandhania said while large estates focusing on producing quality teas stresses on plucking etiquette which result in superior tea quality, small scale tea growers do not emphasise much on the leaf-plucking process.

Besides, he said many planters are not wholly able to reap the benefits of the Tea Board’s Special Purposes Fund on account of failure to meet notarized declaration, export commitment and others.

“Tea producers in Dooars, Terai (West Bengal) and Chachar (Assam) do not generally export teas and are thus not able to reap the subsidies and benefits,” he added.

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