Assam tea industry hit by lack of rain

Guwahati, March 17 (IANS) Over 800 tea gardens in the entire Brahmaputra Valley of Assam have been severely hit this year by lack of rain.

Tea industry experts predict a huge production loss across the state compared to last year if similar weather condition prevails.

"The plucking season starts by early March. However, the weather this year across the Brahmaputra Valley of Assam had been very bad. With no rains so far, the plucking season has been delayed by over two weeks now," said Bidyananda Barkakoty, chairman of North Eastern Tea Association (NETA).

Assam accounts for 13 percent of the world's total tea production. Around 800 tea gardens in Assam produce more than 51 percent of India's total tea production.

Last year, the state's total tea production was 587.27 million kg, of which 534.42 million kg came from the tea gardens in the Brahmaputra Valley.

"This year we have already lost five to seven percent of the crop due to lack of rains," Barkakoty said.