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The Steep Road Ahead

“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

While we tried to make sense of the world in the haze of this dream-like state, it slowly dawned on us that the problem was here to stay and change is the only way forward. The last couple of months have been the most challenging for all. As the world cringed and rolled back in fear and confusion, every person, enterprise, state, and nation was affected irrevocably. The tea industry, too, has taken a massive hit with the inevitable lockdowns coming at a time of the most prized harvest of a year, the First Flush.

Nearly 90 per cent of the produce from Dooars in West Bengal and Assam have gone to waste owing to the lockdown. Darjeeling saw a loss of about 0.8 mkg of prime spring flush tea. A total of 150 million kgs of production was lost during this period. But now efforts are being made to save the Second Flush with governments allowing tea estates to work at 25-50% workforce. Although, the ability to bring back the tea bushes to prime plucking health with adequate pruning measures will likely be hampered because of the limited workforce.

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