Better quality could help S. India tea
Madikeri , May 1
Indian tea is all set to penetrate the Pakistan market substantially this year, according to Mr E.B. Sethna, Chairman of the United Planters Association of Southern India (Upasi).
He told Business Line as of now we stand on a `good wicket' to sell tea to Pakistan.
Upasi had taken part in The Golden Leaf India Award — TGLIA — in Dubai from February 26 to 28, where the South Indian tea was well received by world's jury and buyers, Mr Sethna said.
He said some of the jury members were surprised to experience the quality of the south Indian tea at the festival. Mr. Sethna expressed confidence that the improved quality would help push up the South India tea price as it stood better chances of export.
Tea price is expected to firm up in the coming months, he said. However, prices varied from region to region and everything depended on the quality of the commodity.
The best quality would now fetch Rs 58-65 a kg, medium quality Rs 48-55 a kg and lesser quality Rs 42-48.
Tea production in the country last year was 930 million kg and the domestic consumption was 720 million kg. Exports stood at 187 million kg.
Upasi had interacted with the Union Government in the last two years to get the Special Coffee Term Loan sanctioned to help growers tide over the price crisis, Mr Sethna said.
Still, some growers could not pay interests over their loans (one-third of the package) in time, i.e., by March 31, 2005.
Under this package, growers and banks which have lent loans and the Government of India, are to share the loan interest burden to the extent of one-third each, within the specified period. However, the benefit was recently extended till 2006.
Now that Brazil, world's top coffee producer, was experiencing drought, there could be a shortfall in output.
Stocks being held by growers were also not likely to be released immediately and it could push up demand.
Prices prevailing currently should, more or less, remain stable until at least next season, or even strengthen further, Mr Sethna said.
He said the quality of Indian pepper was far superior to the one imported currently.
Production was likely to be in the range of 65,000 to 75,000 tonnes against the estimated 90,000 tonnes.
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