The Tea Association of India (TAI) has expressed concerned over what it called ‘indiscriminate conversion of land’ for new tea plantations even in non-traditional tea regions

The TAI has requested the various stakeholders, including the respective state governments where tea is a major plantation, to restrict the planting of tea on new lands, which did no previously had tea planted on them, for five years. The TAI says that equilibrium must be reached between the supply of tea and its consumption before expanding the plantations.

“We believe that this restriction in conversion of land for new plantation of tea is critically required so that an equilibrium is reached between the supply of tea and its consumption,” TAI President Mudit Kumar said in a statement.

It may be noted here that many people have converted their land from agriculture to tea plantations. They have presently been representing the tea industry as small tea growers and contributing nearly 48 per cent share, as per records at the Tea Board. “This rapid growth of the small grower sector has led to the emergence of a dual business model, with completely different costs of production, and one in which most of the organised plantations are faced with selling tea below their cost of production,” the statement said.

Tea production in India has gone up from 878 million kg in 2003 to 1338 million kg in 2018, indicating a 52 percent rise in production in 15 years, which outstripped consumption of tea in the country, leading to stagnant selling prices for tea plantations, the TAI says.

“The Tea Association believes that such a moratorium of 5 years for further conversion of land for new plantation of tea would temporarily slow down the growth in supply of tea, and allow the consumption of tea to catch up, thereby re-establishing an equilibrium that will allow the economic sustainability of all stakeholders of the industry,” Mr Kumar said.