Alipurduar: The recurring spells of hail and rain in north Bengal over the past few days have come as a boon for tea planters and a blow to other farmers.
While farmers in Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar are busy in assessing their losses – several acres of crops have been damaged due to the rain and hailstorm – those in tea industry say the rainfall will considerably help in increasing the yield of tea bushes.
The industry is expecting a good yield, with good quality tealeaves, on the month of April, they said. “During these two days, it has rained around 50mm across the Dooars. We were aspiring for this rainfall as it would help us in the first flush. We hope production in Dooars and Terai would be good this year,” said R A Sharma, a tea expert based in north Bengal.
The manager of a tea estate said during this time of the year, due to the dry season, tealeaves often face pest attacks, leading to loss in production.
“Unless there is rainfall, the pest attack increases. Also, we have to bear huge costs for artificially watering the plantations. The sudden rainfall has reduced our worries,” the manager said. On last year, the total tea production in the state was 367.98 million kilos out of which the production in Dooars was 207.86 million kilos while tea estates of Terai contributed 157.30 million kilos.
While the tea industry is elated, farmers have suffered huge losses in most of the blocks of Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri districts. “Crops, mostly vegetables, which were ready for harvest in around 1,400-odd hectares of land, have got damaged in the hail storm and rain. Our officers are making the assessment,” said Sujit Pal, deputy director of agriculture in Jalpaiguri.
In Cooch Behar, vegetables and even tobacco and jute cultivation have been damaged, said officials of district administration. “Crops in at least 20,000 hectares of land have been damaged by the hailstorm and rain. The amount of loss is yet to be ascertained, said Koushik Saha, DM, Cooch Behar.