Tea yields in India are at risk as Covid-19 infections are spread in fields that are already battling drought.
About 90 tea plantations in Assam, India’s largest tea-producing country, have reported cases and numerous evictions, according to the tea agency, as authorities try to stop the virus from spreading to more than 800 plantations.
About 500 cases have been confirmed but investors said more testing is needed to determine the size of the explosion.
India is the second largest tea plant in the world after China, and competes with countries such as Kenya and Sri Lanka in the export market.
Manufacturers warn that, if left unchecked, the explosion could disrupt harvest time and raise prices.
“Last year, tea plantations were miraculously saved,” said Prabhat Bezboruah, chairman of the Tea Board of India. “This time… Miracles are terrible.”
The eruption of tea plantations marks the arrival of the second Indian wave that has not yet left the country. Coronavirus has spread to remote areas after taking it destroying people in cities and disruption of companies and economic events.
India on Sunday reported more than 310,000 cases of Covid-19 and more than 4,100 people on the same day. Experts believe that the figure is much higher.
Assam and neighboring West Bengal, a well-known tea brewery in Darjeeling, each reports its own. Both countries have recently taken place local elections that health experts said to cause the disease.
Trade unions blame what they consider to be less work in the tea plantations to increase it.
The living quarters “are densely populated. Employees work or travel in large groups, so the potential for rapid growth among those living with HIV is extremely dangerous, “Dhiraj Gowala, President of the Assam Tea Tribes Student Association, wrote in a letter to the government.
India’s tea companies have already weakened due to bad weather coupled with climate change until last year, which resulted in higher yields. to stop for several weeks.
The loss helped force Indian prices to rise last year, giving Kenya and Sri Lanka access to the export market.
Ibi Idoniboye, a researcher at the Mintec manufacturing industry, said the recent disruption in Indian farms could create opportunities for farmers like Sri Lanka to sell more to larger consumers such as Russia.
Manufacturers are worried that they are facing another year of loss. The threat of coronavirus is exacerbated by a severe drought in Assam and India in the northeast, which has left tea leaves withering on their bushes.
“You put your hand to the ground and pick up dust. I’m usually muddy and muddy at the moment, “said Nazrana Ahmed, who oversees a farm near Dibrugarh, Assam.
Production of North Indian tea at 47m kg in March was higher than last year, according to tea retailer Van Rees, but still less than 60m kg harvested in March 2019, the last year “normal”.
Prices for tea sales in Kolkata, an export destination, have risen by more than 40% to Rs287.5 per kg in April since last month, according to Mintec.
Vivek Goenka, President of the Indian Tea Association, said government officials have set up vaccination centers to welcome farm workers but are struggling to find bullets among people across the country. lack of jabs.
“We hope we can handle this,” he said. “I’m not saying it will end soon. . . It just depends on how quickly and efficiently we manage this. ”