Tea production likely to drop by 25pc this year


Domestic tea production is likely to drop this year. The National Tea and Coffee Development Board (NTCD) has stated that due to the nationwide lockdown imposed to stem the spread of the coronavirus, tea production might drop by 20 to 25 per cent. As per the board, tea gardens are closed due to which tea leaves cannot be plucked on time.

Although there was no work in the initial days of the lockdown, work was later started by using protective gear in collaboration with the board. Deepak Khanal, spokesperson for the board, said, "Earlier the factories were closed and later when the gardens opened up gradually workers were unable to go to work.” According to him, tea leaves could not be plucked on time and got damaged in the gardens itself, thus, production will drop this year.

It is to be noted that once the tea leaves are plucked in the gardens they are sent to tea manufacturing factories for further process.

After the first flush is plucked another leaf grows in that place. So, if the first flush in not plucked on time, the leaves fall and the quality of tea from the next plucking also decreases. In such a situation the tea thus produced may not get a market.

The current time is the season to pluck tea leaves in the hilly regions while there is still time to pluck tea leaves in the Tarai region. Although work has been halted now the tea that had already been processed was being exported to India during the lockdown while export to other third countries has been affected.

According to the Nepal Commercial Tea Cultivation Survey 2018, 22.24 million kg of tea is produced annually in the country. As per the survey, tea is being cultivated over one million hectare of land across the country.

Commercial tea farming is being practised in 14 out of the 77 districts across the country. Of the total amount of tea produced in the country, 55 per cent of CTC tea and 90 per cent of organic tea are being exported to different countries.

Meanwhile, coffee production has also been projected to decline by 40 to 50 per cent this year. According to the board, this time coffee production has been affected due to the weather before the lockdown. Although the lockdown did not have a significant impact on coffee production, the season before the lockdown has had a major impact on coffee production, Khanal said.

"Before the lockdown, it was estimated that coffee production would decline by 35 to 40 per cent due to climate fluctuations. However, now due to the impact of the lockdown production is likely to go down by 40 to 50 per cent," he added.

A survey conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics has shown that coffee is being cultivated in 32 districts of Nepal.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 18, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.