Kolkata: India’s tea production is estimated to have declined to 940 million kg this year from 957 million kg in 2006, Indian Tea Association (ITA) said.
In the status paper released by ITA on 28 December, the associationsaid exports are also estimated to have fallen by 39 million kg to 180 million kg this year, while imports have dipped to 15 million kg from 24 million kg.
But, domestic consumption has risen to 810 million kg from 785 million kg last year.
The status paper said the outlook for 2008 seemed bright and prices would be largely governed by the progress of the crop and export demand from the beginning of the season.
There would also be insignificant carry forward of stocks compared to the previous years, the paper said.
Lower production was largely due to poor crop yield, the paper said, adding that to raise productivity, the Tea Board had put in place a Special Tea Purpose Fund, which would provide capital for replantation and rejuvenation of decade-old bushes.
As a long term strategy, ITA said the industry should use those areas within the estates that were not suitable for cropping but could be used for alternative cropping.
The drop in exports was mainly due to the loss of the Iraq market and shift in the drinking preference from the CTC to the orthodox variety. India is a very low producer of the orthodox variety, the paper said.
As production was coming down and domestic consumption of tea firming up, auction prices would increase as a result of demand-supply economics, it added.
Globally, tea production has reached a record level of 3,527 million kg, up by 91 million kg in 2006.