He said the first flush accounted almost 10 percent of the entire tea crop in Darjeeling and most of the producers had missed out on that.

Datta said though there were rains now, the drought-like conditions had caused nearly 30 percent loss in tea production but there was a possibility of a recovery during the period between July to September.

Chairman of Darjeeling Tea Association (DTA) SS Bagaria said one-third of the area under tea cultivation in Darjeeling was still reeling under drought-like conditions.

"The Mirik Valley area is still having lack of rainfall. The bushes are drying and there is a shortage of leaves. This makes the economics of the gardens in the area unviable," Bagaria said.

He said that so far, crop loss in the premium tea producing region was down by 40 percent from the last year.

To add to the woes there was a long summer last year in the European Union which resulted in a huge carry-over stock, he said.

During the summer, tea consumption in the EU declines considerably as people prefer other drinks.

However, producers were of the view that the crop loss is unlikely to have any impact on the price level.

The entire Darjeeling area produces nine million kg of orthodox tea which is generally exported.

(Agencies)

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