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  Heavy rains & pest attack vex tea producers
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com 07132010
KOLKATA | GUWAHATI: Tea majors such as McLeod Russel India, Goodricke Group, Rossell Tea Warren Tea and Assam Company are worried over crop loss due
to heavy showers in June and a pest attack. Production will be less in this June as compared to the previous year. A fall in production has resulted in reduced arrivals at Guwahati and Kolkata auctions and pushed up prices of quality teas by Rs 15-20 per kg.

Talking to ET, Vinay Goenka, executive chairman of Warren Tea, said: “In the last 15 days, I have lost Rs 1 crore every day. It has affected the premium second flush teas, which fetch good price in India and abroad. I am not sure whether we will be able to make up this revenue loss even if tea prices go up.” Incidentally, Warren Tea is a major producer of orthodox tea, which is largely exported.

Mr Aditya Khaitan, managing director of McLeod Russel India, said that even though there has been a crop loss, the auction prices have started moving up. “Quality tea price is up by Rs 15-20 per kg. Therefore, as of now we cannot say that financials of the company may take a hit due to heavy showers and pest attack. However, if this continues for long, it may affect the financials of the tea industry.”

Bidyananda Barkakoty, chairman of Northeastern Tea Association, added: “We are hardly getting rain-free period when we can spray the plants and take pest control measures. As the weather condition is so unpredictable that soon after spraying, we find there is downpour.”

Mr Barkakoty said: “We apply urea-containing spray to boast production. This cannot be applied now as it helps in the growth of helopeltis, the pest. In June, Dibrugarh and Tinsukia, the prime tea producing areas of upper Assam, the crop is down by 50% compare to June last year. In Tezpur, production has dipped by 17% for June owing to unfavourable weather.”

AN Singh, MD & CEO of Goodricke Group, said there was a concern due to this situation. “The only relief is that prices for quality teas are ruling firm at the auctions. All depends whether the crop situation improves in July.”

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