Thiruvananthapuram: The coronavirus outbreak has hit export trade too. It has adversely affected the plantation sector. Tons of tea produce have piled up at the Kochi harbour for the past two weeks.

Even though, 2,12,419 kilo of tea (CTC Leaf) was auctioned, 1,11,201 kilo (52%) was not sold out. In the auction conducted on March 4,  1,14,991 kilo was auctioned while 91,095 kilo remained. In case of tea dust, 25 percent of the produce remained unsold. On March 3, 19 percent remained at the harbour. There was a reduction of 2000 tons (various tea produce) in export at the Kochi harbour this month.

Gulf countries, Iran, Iraq and Russia are the main markets of the tea produce from south India. The crisis in export sector is attributed to badly hit industrial sector in the wake of coronavirus outbreak. Though there was reduction in export after US-Iran relationship worsened, it declined to this level now.

The average price of tea produce also has fallen at the auction market. While one kilo of tea had fetched Rs 114 last year, it is priced at Rs 101 now. Meanwhile, the average production cost has increased to Rs 149, points out tea plantation owners.

Civil Supplies prefer Tamil Nadu tea produce

From 2019 August to December, Civil Supplies Corporation has bought only 42.27 percent of their demand from Kerala. 55.28 percent is bought from Tamil Nadu plantations. If agencies like Civil supplies buy domestically produced tea, the crisis can be reduced to an extent, said Ajith B K, Planters Association Secretary.