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ACL targets to increase tea production to 18 million kg in 2006

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Jorhat, Feb 24 (UNI) With the Indian tea industry bouncing back into the business after nearly three years of recession, the Assam Company Limited (ACL), the first tea plantation company in the world since 1839, is all set to increase its production level from 16 million kg last year to over 18 million kg this year.

Expecting a bumper production this year with the climate remaining all along very favourable, ACL Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Abhay Chawdhary and manager of Kalgoorie Tea Easte, one of ACL's 19 gardens in Assam, K S Bhinder echoing similar views said besides the production they were confident of recording about 20 per cent growth in terms of revenue this year.

Speaking to a group of visiting newsmen from Kolkata,Mr Chawdhary said though the company had largely diversified into the oil and gas exploratrion business in upper Assam and divested a major chunk of its financial stake into the new venture (since 1991) to bring in foreign collaborators, it was still maintaining as many as 19 tea estates spread over 20,000 hectare in the state and employing more than 32,000 people.

"Our vision is to become a one billion dollar corporate in the business of tea and energy, " Mr Chowdhury, quoting Group Chairman K K Jajodia's statement, said.

Further elaborating his plan for the tea business particularly in the backdrop its projected revival, Mr Chawdhury and Mr Bhinder said as they expected to leave the recessionary period behind and hoped the cloud of uncertainlty from the Indian tea industry had almost gone, the production at all level and of all types of tea would be increased manifold catering to the diversified demand of customers.

Since there was no tea available in the Indian market at present following the loss of production level in the last few years, prices of tea in both domestic as well as international market skyrocketted, Mr Bhinder said and claimed that like previous years they were planning to export as much as 65 per cent of their products to the Euoropean and Middle Eastern markets.

"We are exporting to them only just because they give best quality Indian tea the best prices, " Mr Bhinder reiterated and hoped this year alone they would export to the tune of over 50 million pound.

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