The tea industry aims to target schoolchildren to boost per capita consumption and is planning to do a survey before starting a campaign, Azam Monem, chairman, Indian Tea Association, said.
Addressing a press meet to share the industry’s concerns over a three-day strike notice served by 28 trade unions in West Bengal, Mr. Monem said peak season work-disruptions would hurt the industry at a time when it was beset with oversupply, flat prices, high overhead costs and low per capita consumption. The workers are agitating over the issue of minimum wages.
Mr. Monem said that 10 rounds of discussions have been held by the Minimum Wages Advisory Committee and interim wage increases had been implemented in West Bengal taking the cash component of daily wages to Rs. 159. West Bengal accounts for 25% of India’s annual tea output.
Rains hit crop
Production stood at 78.5 million kg between January and May, with rains reducing the June crop by 9%. Minimum wages are also being discussed in Assam, Mr. Monem said.
As part of the strategy to tackle oversupply by boosting domestic consumption (per capita 786 grams), a campaign to promote tea among schoolchildren was being finalised. A recent Tea Board survey showed tea drinking by children below 12 years was negligible.
With a view to increase exports (currently a little over 200 million kg), a delegation was set to travel to Iraq on July 23 to revive India’s presence in the 100 million kg market, Mr. Monem said. “Till 2013, India exported 50 million kg of high value orthodox and CTC teas annually to Iraq.”
He also indicated that exports to Iran were on track.