Hit hard by COVID-19 spread among plantation workers and drought-like situation before the pre-monsoon showers, tea estates in Assam are set to suffer a 40% crop deficit in the first five months of this year, says a study by North Eastern Tea Association (NETA). The crop deficit from January to May this year will be about 60 million kilograms in comparison to that of the same period in 2019.
“We have not compared crop figures with 2020 because last year, the crop deficit from January to May was 78 million kgs due to Covid lockdown. In percentage terms, the crop deficit from Jan to May this year will be about 40% compared to the same period in 2019,” said NETA advisor Bidyananda Barkakoty.
According to NETA, the average rainfall deficit is about 45% between January and April this year in comparison to that of the same period last year in the main tea-growing districts of Assam.
“Nowadays, rainfall is highly localised and there is a difference in the quantum of rainfall within few kilometres of distance. The study assessed crop loss due to the impact of prolonged drought-like situation. It took into account rainfall received in the last few days,” said Barkakoty.
Assam produces more than half of India’s total tea output. The state’s average annual tea production is between 630-700 million kg.