July 3: With the enforcement of lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus infection, tea estates in Ilam district have lost a sizable income during the peak season to pluck the first flush.
The farmers could neither take the tea leaves for processing nor do they supply the processed tea to the market. The first flush, which gets readied from the beginning of April, is considered as the best quality tea leaves with more market and values. This year the farmers could not pluck the high-quality first flush due to lockdown, incurring a huge loss to the farmers and factories, proprietor of Jasbire Tea Processing Center Sarad Subba of Ilam Municipality-4 said.
We could not supply the tea despite there was a demand from the third countries, he bemoaned. "We supply our products to China and other third countries. But, we have not sent yet this year as the international market is in standstill," Subba added.
The tea factory owners have also failed to pay the tea farmers and workers as well. Chief of Gorkha Tea Estate, Udaya Chapagain, shared that their loss is huge as tea factories remained closed for some days. He, however, claimed that he was regularly paying for the workers and farmers even in the lockdown despite his products have not reached the market.
This sector incurred more than Rs 6 million in loss in the first season of this year, General Secretary of Central Tea Cooperatives Association Rabin Rai said. (RSS)