Bangladesh tea production heats up to a historic high in 2021

Bangladesh's tea industry has brewed up 96.5m kg of one of the world’s top commodities in 2021, the highest in 168 years of commercial production.

Bangladesh Tea Board in a notice on Wednesday credited the efforts of the government, owners and workers to keep productions at the tea plantations normal amid the coronavirus pandemic for the milestone.

The government came to the industry's rescue with a stimulus package, while the commerce ministry and the board chipped in with regular monitoring and advices to the tea garden managements, it said.

A record tea yield of 14.5 million kg in October had emboldened officials in Bangladesh for the first time to eye an annual production of 100 million kg, but the industry just fell short.

The output in 2021 was still higher than the previous record of 96m kg in 2019.  

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Bangladesh adopted the Roadmap to Development: Bangladesh Tea Industry in 2017, targeting 140 million kg production in 2025.

According to the Bangladesh Tea Board, the previous monthly production record was 13.4 million kg in 2019.

October’s record yield accumulated to 79.3 million kg tea produced this year, exceeding the 2021 target of 77.7 million kg with two months to spare. In 2020, Bangladesh produced 86.3 million kg tea.

Bangladesh Tea Board Chairman Maj Gen Md Ashraful Islam had earlier said such yields have been possible due to higher-than-normal rainfall.

The demand for tea is going up every year. The Tea Board said the demand was 86 million kg in 2017 when Bangladesh produced almost 79 million kg. It rose to 90.45 million kg in 2018 before climbing to 95 million kg the following year.

It dropped to 84 million kg last year amid the pandemic but the export leapt to 2.17 million kg in 2020 from 600,000 kg in 2019.

However, only 500,000 kg tea was exported until October last year.

In Bangladesh, the greater Sylhet region has 136 of the 167 tea estates - 91 in Moulvibazar, 25 in Habiganj and 19 in Sylhet. And there are 21 more in Chattogram, eight in Panchagarh, two in Rangamati and one in Thakurgaon.