Raindrops brought delight to tea planters in Darjeeling and Bengal foothills

After long winter time dry spell, wide spread rainfall has brought delight to the tea planters in Sub Himalayan West Bengal including Darjeeling, one of the highest tea producing regions of the country. The sprinkle of fresh water during ‘first flush’ is expected to give a heavy boost to quality and quantity both of the green beverage.

“One can well imagine what it is to have good rainfall after such a long dry spell that started last October and continued till February end causing us to worry over first flush production,” said KK Mintri, Chairman of TeraiBSE -3.60 % Indian Planters Association.

As per Indian meteorological department statistics, Sikkim and Sub Himalayan region hills has witnessed 30.6 mm rainfall during 1st to 15th March, 20% higher than usual for this period. With a steep turn, rainfall had gone up to 87% higher than average during 9th to 15th March of previous years. “We expect good rainfall to continue for next couple of days,” said GN Raha, senior meteorologist from IMD India.

First flush or new batch of leaf after three months long no plucking and bush maintenance period from December to February comes in March in high volume and highest quality. Being highest in price, it always remains under best attention of all attached to the industry.

“The rainfall is expected to brighten overall first flush scenario in entire tea belt in sub Himalayan West Bengal,” said R Lochan, veteran tea trader and CII North Bengal Chapter Chairman. The region including¬†Darjeeling produces around 300 Million Kg per annum, around one fourth of national yield.

Importantly, “Arrival of summer always keeps planters worried about pest attack. But, good rainfall during this period has largely helped in keeping it under lower side,” Lochan added.

However, not everything in weather front appears quite rosy, “We do not rule out possibility of heavy hailstorm during next couple of days,” said Raha.

And, “That can be disastrous. As new and young leaves cannot withstand heavy impact of hails, it can severely alter entire scenario,” said Mintri.

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