Tea production stable despite plantations crossing age limit: Govt

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New Delhi, Mar 5 (UNI) The government today said 38 per cent of the total tea area in the country had crossed the economic age limit of 50 years, but tea production had not declined because substantial area had been brought under its cultivation.

In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jairam Ramesh said while 38 per cent of the total tea area had crossed the threshold economic age limit of 50 years, another nine per cent of the area was in the age bracket of 40-50 years.

He also admitted that most of the tea gardens in India were more than 70 years old.

Mr Ramesh said the productivity of the old bushes was low, but there had not been reduction in production at the national level as substantial area had been brought under new plantation during the last ten years.

The production from the young plantations had offset the productivity loss due to the old and aged tea bushes.

Giving the figures, he said tea production in the country was 945.97 million tonnes in 2005, 955.90 million tonnes in 2007 and 944.68 million tonnes in 2007.

Mr Ramesh said a Special Purpose Tea Fund had been set up for extending financial assistance by way of long-term loan and subsidy for encouraging the tea gardens in taking up large-scale uprooting and replanting or rejuvenation of the old tea bushes.

The target is to take up replanting and rejuvenation in an area of 2,12,000 hectares during the next 15 years.

UNI SKS NC RAI1357

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