Tea Association of India hails FSSAI move to regulate fertilizers

BNE News Desk

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Guwahati: The Tea Association of India has welcomed the recent flurry of notifications and actions initiated by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in notifying “chemicals” that are banned in tea amid a nationwide crisis for the lucrative crop. 

Prabir Kumar Bhattacharjee, the secretary-general of the Tea Association of India, referenced FSSAI notifications to test 20 banned pesticides in addition to 33 chemicals specified for tea as per a 2011 regulation. Last year in December, the Tea Board India also asked tea estates and small tea growers to avoid using chemicals or pesticides that have no label claim for tea.

"With the tea board working in tandem with the FSSAI, it is to be expected a level playing field will be established to usher in a regime of availability in compliant teas in the market", Bhattacharjee underlined.

Earlier this year, the Tea Association of India issued an advisory to its members with an updated account of prevalent regulatory impositions which was followed by a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) directive expressing its resolve to bring forth "compliant tea in the market cutting across all spectrum of tea stakeholders even if it heralds a drop in production."

Meanwhile, Bhattacharjee highlighted data released by the Tea Board of India indicating a drop in production of around 40% in Assam and around 23% in West Bengal till March 2024 as against last year during the same period. Due to a lack of rainfall and high temperatures, the region has witnessed significant wilting of tea bushes, which indicates further crop loss in the coming months. This has worried all the stakeholders.

"It is estimated that if sufficient and well-distributed rainfall is not received immediately, the crop loss may be to a tune of over 50% in the coming months", he said. 

Since tea is a rain-fed crop, not receiving sufficient rain hampers the production of its premium first flush and second flush during this time, and loss of crop during this period will severely affect the cash flows of the companies. While there is a marginal improvement in the All India Auction average price in the last 2 sales, the weekly average price of the All India Auction was almost Rs 6 to Rs 33 less in all sales starting this year. The phenomenon of a drop in crop production with no concomitant rise in prices is in stark contrast to the 2020 scenario when a drop in production due to covid closure caused a sharp rise in realization of tea prices.

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BNE News Desk