Special Correspondent

Per unit earnings improve

Pick up in exports to Russia

KOLKATA: Signalling a reversal in the declining trend witnessed last year, Indian tea exports have registered an increase both by value as well as volumes during the first half of 2008, according to official statistics available.

South India which exports nearly its entire output, accounts for 40 per cent of the 10.7 million kg increase registered between January and June, with North India contributing the balance. India earned Rs. 883.32 crore exporting 87.4 million kg of tea during this period against an earning of Rs. 766.75 crore exporting 77 million kg. Per unit earnings stood at Rs. 101 a kg against Rs. 99.60 a kg in the same period last year.

Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh told The Hindu that he was optimistic about this trend being sustained through the year. “The marketing efforts are now beginning to pay off and we are hopeful about a revival of the Iraq market along with a strengthening of the markets in Egypt and Iran. The strategy of increasing production and exports of orthodox teas is also contributing to the upward trend,” he said.

Industry sources told The Hindu, that the reported 20.7 per cent drop in output from Kenya, one of India’s main rivals in the international tea arena, might have played a pivotal role in increasing exports.

Details of export destinations available till March show a pick up in traditional market like Russia (where India had suffered major setbacks in recent years) along with Egypt, which is now a thrust market. Gains have also been made in high-value markets such as Iran and Australia.

The Indian tea industry is now on a rising curve after years of recession. Prices have increased at all the tea auction centres and are higher by Rs. 8 a kg averaging at Rs. 82.73 a kg.