Pakistan Institute of Development Economics



Some Factors Affecting Tea Production in Pakistan

The nature of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis, is such that certain natural factors heavily influence where it can be grown and how productive it will be. Among these factors, rainfall, temperature, and soil quality (particularly, drainage) seem to be the most important and have limited tea production essentially to South and Southeast Asia (although an increasing amount, 5 to 6 per cent of world production in recent years, is being grown in certain areas of Africa and Latin America) [4, p. 77; 3, p. 50]. The climate of East Pakistan is suitable for tea, and the hills of the Sylhet district in the northeast and the Chittagong dis¬trict in the southeast have provided the required soil and drainage conditions to make Pakistan the seventh largest tea-producing country in the world. About 3 per cent of the world’s output is grown in East Pakistan, and of this, over 90 per cent is grown in the Sylhet distiict alone. The recent position of tea in Pakistan, at least in its broad outlines, is quite familiar even to the casual student of the Pakistan economy. Essentially static production, combined with rapidly increasing internal consumption, has resulted in a continual decline in exports during the past decade. These trends can be clearly seen in Figure 1. Exports of 34.13, 26.03, and 21.03 million pounds in 1951/52,1954/55, and 1956/57, respectively, yielded earnings of Rs. 42.07 million, Rs. 55.78 million, and Rs. 51.43 million (about 3 per cent of total export earnings), in these three years [13]. During the past year (1963/64), tea exports have been nil. Whereas over 60 per cent of total production was exported in 1951/52, essentially all tea produced was consumed domestically in 1963/64. In light of the foreign-exchange shortage and the great need to expand exports, the Pakistan tea “story” is an unhappy one, indeed.

Philip S. Thomas, Irshad Ahmad

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