Jeffry Rebello, president of UPASI, says the government should support the industry in introducing Indian tea and coffee brands abroad.

South India’s plantation sector, which employs more than 2.5 million workers, has faced a multifaceted crisis in recent years, with climate change affecting production, rising input costs, labor shortages and volatile commodity prices emerging as major challenges. In an interview with Business Line, Jeffry Rebello, president of the United Planters Association of South India (UPASI), an apex trade body, said that the oversupply of tea is affecting prices, but advised fresh planting in new and unconventional countries. areas should be rejected. Excerpts: 

 How do you assess the current situation in the planting industry? 

It was a mixed year, with paprika and cardamom prices rising, while coffee prices remained stable, but Arabica prices were lower than last year. The prices of tea and rubber fell sharply and fell below the cost of production. South Indian tea prices, which fluctuated between ₹ 130-135/kg in the first quarter, have now fallen to ₹ 102, a decline of nearly 25 percent. Also, rubber (RSS-4) prices  are currently at ₹ 146.50/kg, up from ₹ 175 last year. The main reason for the drop in tea prices was oversupply – both domestically and globally – and a drop in export demand due to global headwinds. Rubber prices fell due to lower demand from major consumer China, lower oil prices and the global economic crisis. 

  How is the industry preparing to mitigate and deal with the effects of a changing climate?  

Needless to say, climate change has a strong direct and indirect impact on agricultural activities and can hamper crop production, as seen in recent years. Some of the climate change challenges  in the plantation sector are delayed monsoon, deficient monsoon, unexpected heavy rainfall, fewer rainy days, long periods of exceptionally hot weather, rising temperatures and dry spells,  concentration of rains in a short time against well. -distributed rainfall. 

 Harvesting has stopped or is decreasing because tree plantations have expired for coffee and tea. What is being done to stop this trend?  

 It is true that both tea and coffee had the effect of stagnant or declining income in the south. South Indian tea production figures show that after a peak of 246.9 million kilograms (mkg) in 2008, production could never exceed that level. It is important that the reduction in production  be permanent because it  is a “regional effect”. In other words, the decline in production is due to a decline in area  rather than productivity.

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