Guwahati: A drought in India’s major tea growing region has led to a dramatic fall in production during the first quarter of the year, industry officials said on Sunday.
Tea growers in the northeastern state of Assam say they produced 12,000-15,000 tonnes less tea in the first quarter than in the same period last year because of insufficient rain, said Dhiraj Kakati, head of the Assam Branch Indian Tea Association.
Assam and neighbouring states account for more than 70% of the more than one million tonnes produced by India’s $1.5 billion tea industry.
Kakati said the fall in tea production is not likely to lead to job cuts because the industry would be buoyed by the rising price of tea in part a result of the falling production.
Indian tea plantations employ nearly three million people, mostly women, in jobs that pay about $1.25 a day, plus free housing and subsidized food.
Production has also fallen in some other tea growing countries. The Sri Lanka Tea Board said it produced 20,000 tonnes less in the first two months of 2009 than a year earlier.
The Kenyan Tea Board has predicted a 5% fall in 2009 production because of dry weather.