Situated at the south of the eastern Himalaya, Assam is known to the world for numerous reasons. But the biggest contribution of this picturesque state to the world is its tea. Assam has been producing some of the finest teas in the world. Assam exports its tea mostly to Europe and Middle-East countries, says a senior official of Tea Board of India. Besides them, Pakistan, Egypt, Japan and Israel are also figured in the export list.Media reports said that Tea industry in Darjeeling is likely to be effected due to the recent earthquake and Tsunami in Japan.
The discovery of the tea plant in Assam is attributed to Bruce Brothers, Robert and C.A Bruce. According to Tea and Coffee Trade Journal, New York, in 1823 Robert Bruce noticed the tea plant at Rangpur in Upper Assam. After him, C.A Bruce nurtured the tea plantations.
Following the path, Assam became the pioneer in the tea industry of the world. The climate of the state is such that it gives a sweetness and an earthy flavor. According to the sources of Tea Association of India, the total tea production in India will be around 950 million kg in 2010-11.The previous year's figure was around 979 million kg.
Assam contributes around 50 percent of total tea produced in India. Barak valley and Upper Assam has the maximum numbers of tea plantation.
Also, small tea growers are also contributing to the development of the tea industry of Assam. According to the "Survey Report and Data Bank on Small Tea Growers" ,published by State Industry Department recently, Assam has 68,465 small tea gardens. These small tea growers account for about 25 per cent of the State's total tea output.
Though there is speculation in media regarding the effect of Tsunami in Japan on Tea exporters of Assam as Japan is one of the major exporters of tea from Assam. But tea insiders in Assam rejected such possibilities.
"It is too early to comment on that. India exports 2 to 2.5 millions tea to Japan, which is very nominal in comparison to other countries" , said a senior official of a tea company.
''We have not seen any immediate effect in Assam. But if climate change due to Radioactivity which is again very unlikely, than the crop may be effected', the source added.
Another source expressed that this year the export quantity may be increased as the tea plantations in Japan are likely to be affected. In this situation, Assam along with other states will have to export more tea to Japan. But, it will become clear after a few months when the pick session starts. The period from June to December is generally considered as the pick session of tea export.
Manas Pratim Sarma, AIR News Editor, Guwahati