Iran tea growers' cash shortage leads to smaller harvest

Iran Materials 5 June 2012 12:23 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, June 5/Trend M. Moezzi

Iran's tea harvest has declined by 30 per cent this year because tea growers are so short on funds they can't afford to perform normal, full-scale agricultural operations in their fields.

So far this year (Iran's solar year began on March 20), tea growers have harvested 35,000 tons of tea leaves compared to 50,000 tons over the same period last year, Mehr news agency reports.

One reason for the growers' financial crisis is that the government has not paid them the money they are owed said Iraq Housami, who heads Iran's Tea Growers' Association.

Tea growers are owed $18 million (USD) for the 40,000 tons of tea the government has bought from them.

Another problem for growers is the level the government pays for their tea: 7000 rials for a kilo of prime tea and 3900 rials for a kilo of standard grade tea (the government set currency exchange rate is 12,290 rials to one dollar).

"That's less than half of what tea growers had asked for even in emergency conditions, "said Mr. Housami. Their suggested price was 15,000 rials for a kilo of prime tea and 10,000 rials for a kilo of standard tea.

Iranians consume 130,000 tons of tea a year, with only 30,000 tons of that coming from domestic tea growers.