More than 100 commercial horticulturists of Siang Valley of Arunachal Pradesh and bordering Dhemaji of north Assamare suffering huge loss due to COVID-19 lockdown.

These horticulturalists have developed small tea gardens at the foothills of Assam-Arunachal boundary area.

The loss is particularly glaring as their plucking activities have put on halt for the period.

It was reported that tea growers have just started plucking in early peak season after winter pruning, but they had to stop activities with closing down the tea procession factories after the countrywide lock down was enforced.

Small tea growers of the region have decried that the lockdown has ceased their business, created economic hardship to their families.

Siang Tea Industries, Oyan (Arunachal) assistant manager Kaling Moyong, who looks after tea leaves supply from the small gardens, informed that the growers of the area informed that the growers have kept plucking works on suspension since the lockdown was announced.

Loss of production in their gardens during the peak plucking season has incurred huge economic loss to the farmers.

“I repeatedly moved the authority for special relaxation to permit vehicular for supplying of tea leaves connecting the factory, but my all efforts in this regard went in vain. Now, the sufferers are eagerly staring at March 3, expecting an end of the ominous lockdown,” Moyong lamented.

In a recent development, the State Government following Union Home Ministry’s lockdown norms, has allowed construction works and industrial activities using existing labours and raw materials.

As such, Donyi Polo Tea Estate at Oyan along with five nearby gardens resumed plucking of tea leaves for last one week.

Of course, the farmers are facing problem to carry out the activity with limited manpower as they were depending upon wage-labours hailed in large number from neighbouring Assam.

“Plucking of tea leaves has been resumed in my garden since April 18, but it becomes a difficult task for me to maintain the garden with limited number of resident labours,” rued Bimal Lego, a tea farmer of Oyan village.

Another tea farmer Tanyok Taga, who is maintaining a 40 hectare garden near Industrial Growth Centre at Niglok also made same assumption.

Though the activities at Donyi Polo Tea Estate and four nearby gardens are resumed, yet about 100 small growers are unable to resume plucking due to transportation problem.

The rural roads at both the states are kept blocked owing to the lockdown, while plying of commercial vehicle (other than carrying essential items) on the highway along Assam-Arunachal boundary is prohibited during the period.

Prafulla Kaman

Prafulla Kaman is Northeast Now Correspondent in Dhemaji. He can be reached at: pkradio16@gmail.com