Need for real-time data on production, prices and consumption of tea: IIPM Director

The government should set up an institutional mechanism to provide real-time data on production, consumption, trade and prices for the tea sector, Indian Institute of Plantation Management (IIPM) Director Rakesh Mohan Joshi said on Friday.

He also said there is an urgent need to develop enabling policies with targeted interventions to address the rapidly emerging novel issues such as climate change, reducing production costs and achieving efficiencies across the sector’s value chain.

To address the new challenges in the tea industry, the government should focus on adopting an integrated approach to develop an institutional mechanism with active participation of producing states along with other tea production stakeholders.

“The tea industry, once a gold mine for British planters and a major source of foreign exchange earnings that played a crucial role in India’s trade and economy in the last century, is now even struggling to survive,” said Joshi.

India’s share in global tea exports has steadily declined from 27 percent in 1970 to 9.5 percent in 2022, while the share of countries like China fell from 5 percent to 26.5 percent and in the case of Kenya from 6 percent to 17.6 percent percent has increased over the same period.

He added that in today’s context, tea production plays a crucial role in poverty alleviation, rural development and food security.

The Indian tea industry employs 1.6 million workers directly and an equal number of people are indirectly associated with the industry.

There are 2.5 lakh small tea farmers in the industry, which accounts for 52 percent of India’s total tea production.

“Rising production costs for domestic tea production on the one hand and a steady decline in international tea prices on the other hand are the biggest challenge facing the tea industry today, making it a daunting task to ensure its commercial viability,” added he added.

He also said that plantation costs in India have increased significantly in the last two decades, from Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 per hectare, which has affected the financial viability of tea production and its international competitiveness.

“The government should also focus on setting up an effective institutional mechanism to provide real-time data on production, consumption, trade, stocks and prices and make these data available in real-time on public platforms,” Joshi said.

The Bengaluru-based IIPM, under the Ministry of Commerce, conducts need-based industry capacity building and training programs for stakeholders in the agri-plantation sector. Need for real-time data on production, prices and consumption of tea: IIPM Director

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