Propelled by small tea growers , the Indian tea industry has finally breached the one billion kg-mark in production, according to Union Commerce Ministry figures.
The feat came to light following a major exercise launched by the industry regulator, the Tea Board of India, to bring within the net all segments of tea producers — organised and unorganised — many of whom were not reporting their crop statistics.
Following this exercise taken up through the second half of 2012, it became clear that India had actually produced 75 million kg more than the 988 million it was estimated to have produced between January and December 2011.
Tea Board started notifying the 2011 revised figures from December and the exercise, now completed, shows Indian tea crop to be 1063.5 million kg. The share of bought leaf factory (from the small tea growers) is around 29 per cent, officials said.
In 2012, India has already reached a level of 1023.9 million kgof tea crop by November according to field level data.
Tea Board Chairman M. G. V. K. Bhanu told The Hindu that the output of the small tea growers was never captured fully all these years, even as their share in the total output was rising.
Enquiries revealed that this was as much due to the inadequacies of the data collection system of the regulator, as due to BLF’s failure to report crop figures as mandated by the Tea Marketing Control Order.
Following the successful implementation of a pilot project to file electronic returns on crop figures in the south, it has been decided to roll out the project nationally.
Mr Bhanu said that, internationally, this milestone proves that India has the capacity to meet the domestic demand with an exportable surplus.
Arun Singh, Managing Director, Goodricke Group and the current chairperson of the Indian Tea Association, said that this would improve India’s credibility in the international market.