Kolkata: India’s tea exports are expected to clock a 5 per cent growth this year in terms of volume, provided shipments to Iran do not get disturbed, said Tea Board chairman P.K Bezboruah.

“There are some challenges in the current year in terms of tea exports. India’s tea exports to Iran, which was a good customer last year, may get disrupted as the US has threatened to re-establish [nuclear programme-related] sanctions on Iran. The centre is working on it so that bilateral trade between the two countries [India-Iran] continues,” Bezboruah told IANS.

India achieved the highest tea exports in 2017 after 36 years, exporting 251.91 million kilograms in the last calendar year, up by 13.24 per cent from 222.45 million kilograms exported during 2016.

“The exports growth this year would not be spectacular but it is expected to go up by 5 per cent in terms of volume, provided exports to Iran do not get disturbed,” he said.

Indian exporters are keen to regain market share in Kazakhstan, which used to import significant volumes of Indian tea earlier, he said.

Bezboruah exuded confidence that tea exports will continue to expand in the UAE, the US, China, Russia and the Middle East.

Notably, the country exported 256.57 million kilograms of tea in the last fiscal year (2017-18), up by 12.71 per cent from 227.63 million kilograms exported in the previous year (2016-17).

On the production front, the crop’s production was at 1.32 billion kilograms last year, having registered an increase of 74.56 million kilograms on 2016-17 figures.

Production of the crop is expected to be higher this year though estimated production in April, which stood at 85.74 million kilograms, was down by 7.21 per cent year-on-year, he said.

In fact, estimated tea production stood at 177.94 million kilograms in January-April this year, down marginally from the 181.32 million kilograms produced in the corresponding period last year.