Rainfall deficit delays first flush tea in Assam
Tea plantations in several parts of Assam are reeling under rainfall shortage. This has led to a delay in the arrival of first flush of tea leaf.
The first flush of tea, which comes at the beginning of March, and the second flush available in April, are considered to be very important. However, planters fear that the first flush tea will be available only by later this month.
Planters are finding it difficult to keep their gardens green in Sonitpur, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Golaghat, Nagaon and Darrang in northern Assam due to an unfavourable climate.
Mridul Hazarika, director of Tea Research Association's Tocklai Experimental Station in Assam, told ET: "Rainfall is less this year. This has affected production. We are collecting data to verify the deficiency. First flush of tea is delayed".
According to Bidyananda Barkakoty, chairman of the North Eastern Tea association, the first flush is very important and contributes significantly to the overall production. "If rains do not come now, our production will definitely decrease".
Last year, the state had witnessed bumper production, 508.74 million kg, which is the second-highest output in the history of 180-year-old Assam tea industry. Planters have taken to irrigation.
The All Assam Small Tea Growers' Association general secretary Karuna Mahanta said: "As things stand now, the first flush is likely to be delayed by 10-15 days. Generally, we get the first flush at the beginning of March. However, till now, we are yet to get the leaf. It is a drought-like situation."
He added that most small growers are not in a position to make arrangements for irrigation and around 5% are using 'spring-cooler'. "In the northern belt of Assam, there was hardly any rainfall during February," he added.