Drastic drop in tea production due to November rains

by Steve A. Morrell

The heavy downpour experienced in the tea planting districts resulted in a drastic drop in the November yield, with low growns dipping from 14.4 million kilos and high growns falling to 3.4 million kilos in comparison to the previous month’s (October) figures of 17.4 million and 7 million kilos, respectively.

President, Asia Siyaka Tea Brokers, Anil Cooke, predicted that an improvement in the overall yield was unlikely over the next few weeks.

He said there were steady crop increases till September this year, but the downside was the incessant rain, which arrested growth resulting in negative results.

"The crop gains were wiped out", he noted.

However, the crop decline was not restricted to Sri Lanka as other major producing countries such as Kenya and India also suffered a drop in production resulting in overall price increases at the auctions.

World production figures were higher in 2018 in comparison to the previous year. Sri Lanka showed minus variance of 3.87 million kilos, while Kenya, India, China, Uganda and Malawi had plus variances.

The drop in production this year led to an upward trend in prices, the Forbes & Walker (F&W) tea report confirmed.

Price increases are usually experienced at this time of year because of winter buying by CIS countries and Russia. The November average was Rs. 569.67, which was higher than the Rs. 525.53 sales average for October, a significant increase of Rs. 44.24. However the report also reflected a year- on-year performance of a reduced average of about Rs. 14.00 per kilo. The trend for price increases is expected to continue with the Western quality season at hand.

Subject to weather conditions returning to normal with the rains easing by mid December, the onset of cold nights in the Western districts, production levels are bound to improve with the quality weather, the report added.

Analyzing price fluctuations, the F&W report further said high growns recorded the highest increase average of Rs. 540.81 for November, an increase of Rs. 63.22 over the same month in 2018.

Flowery grades sold well. Although such quantities were low, prices realized exceeded Rs. 1,000. per kilo. BOP 1 fetched Rs. 1,300, while OP 1 sold at Rs. 1,700 per kilo.

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