Tea crop loss because of pest attack has taken a toll this year on the inland container depot at Amingaon — the only dry port in the region —as 7 million kg of tea could not be sent.
Sources said 2,285 containers were sent in 2010-11, compared to 2,954 in 2009-10, which was the highest in the history of the inland container depot since its inception.
This year, the production in the Brahmaputra Valley from January to December 2010 recorded a crop decrease of 16 million kg, totalling
420 million kg, because of
incessant rainfall early in
the season leading to pest attacks, particularly in Upper Assam.
Around 36 rakes were sent from the inland container depot and the highest number of containers was by McLeod Russell, which sent 1,572 containers, followed by Apeejay and MK Shah Exports, which had sent 336 and 224 containers respectively.
In 2009-10, McLeod Russell had sent 2,273 containers. The rail-linked depot is under the Container Corporation of India Limited.
Gillanders Arbuthnot Limited, which had never sent tea from the depot, made its debut this year by sending six containers.
Nine companies are presently sending tea from the depot. Tea is mainly sent to the UK, Europe and West Asia.
Other countries where tea is also sent are Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Canada and the US.
Since 1986, when the depot became operational, 50,121kg of tea have been sent from here.
Huge investment has been made by the Container Corporation of India Limited, which is looking after the depot to improve facilities so that more tea could be sent.
“Every segment involved in despatching tea has been hit,” a source said.
Industry officials said more companies should use the route to export their tea for better use of the facility.
A number of shipping lines is involved in exporting tea, with the Shipping Corporation of India shipping the most — 1,135kg.
The increase in deduction from agriculture income on tea exported from the inland container depot at Amingaon from Rs 1 per kg to Rs 5 per kg of tea under the Assam Agricultural Income Tax Act, 1939, has helped tea produced in the state to remain competitive in the international market, which is encouraging companies to use the facility.
A tea industry official said though it has done well in the quality and price front, the export target of 200 million kg was unlikely to be met and was significantly down by 8 million kg to 190 million kg.
“We, therefore, will have to continue to strive to meet our export targets by producing more orthodox tea,” the official said.
He said it was imperative to continue manufacture good Assam orthodox to meet the growing international demand as this would also help in meeting the export targets, since vast majority of importing countries — barring Pakistan and Iraq — prefer orthodox to CTC tea.
The total turnover of tea industry in Assam is about Rs 5,000 crore and another 10 lakh people are dependent on this industry in the state, be it employment or services.