Tea industry in Kerala facing crisis

Friday, Nov 7, 2014,21:08 IST By metrovaartha A A A

Munnar | The tea industry in Kerala is facing a severe crisis due to falling prices, increase in wages and high cost of fertilisers, B P Kariappa, Chairman, Kanan Devan Planters’ Association, has said.
The industry is in dire straits due to price fall, wage hike and high fertliser costs, Kariappa said in a statement here. The current crisis was taking the industry back to its worst ever period, he said.
Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Company Pvt Ltd, Tata Global Beverages Limited, Harrisons Malayalam Limited, Talayar Tea Company & Kottagudi Plantations Pvt Ltd, which are all members of the Association, are facing the crisis, he stated.
Tea prices in South India are at unviable levels with average price during the year 2014 up to September dropping well below Rs 100 from Rs 115 per kg during the corresponding period last year with a drop of 13 per cent. The wages have gone up by 19 per cent in Kerala.
The increase in wages which has no linkage to productivity coupled with spiralling costs of other inputs have crippled the tea plantations and it is in the verge of collapse, he stated. The cost of production is now set to go way beyond Rs 100 to upto Rs 115.
The unfavourable tax environment further aggravates the situation where the cost structure already places the products on a weak grounding vis–vis the competition, he stated. The high plantation tax, Agriculture income tax, basic land tax were also causing dent in the earnings, he said.
He urged both Central and State governments to put in place immediate relief measures to safe guard the tea plantations which supports large number of workers and their families and urged trade unions operating in this region and in Kerala state to take steps and support the plantations in every way possible for its survival.