2018 was a good year for crop as we made our highest since 2013. However highercosting dampened profitability and we have made a loss of Rs. 0.53 crores. This isdisappointing and as a company we must improve the efficiency of our plantations.
We require full access to government schemes on the tea garden such as rationsmedicine and electricity. Tea companies cannot be responsible for providing welfare to thevillages within the estate when we have ceded control over attendance and productivity.We must be free to choose who to employ and when to employ them.
We also want greater assistance from local police and politicians with drainage theftand encroachment issues. Somewhere along the line we have lost sight of the fact thatthese villages and communities exist because of the tea garden not in spite of it.
In addition we call upon the Tea Board to release subsidies on time and in full. It isthe Government's duty to honor the commitments made in the 12th and 13th Plan.
Our investments have fared well this year; with the exception of our half a percentholding in Warren Tea Limited (WTL). WTL performed poorly yet again in 2018 with a loss ofRs. 23 crores before tax. At a PAT level we have now outperformed WTL by 10 timescumulatively in the 7 years since our demerger in 2013.
Like WTL many of our peers are suffering huge and unsustainable losses. We would like alevel playing field between the organised and unorganised sectors. One step towards thisis to monetise rations and other benefits. Another would be a minimum price on tea todiscourage the production of poor quality bought leaf tea.
The crux of the challenge facing those in the business of operating tea plantations isthat wages have more than doubled since 2012 whilst selling prices have remained flat.
In spite of all these challenges I remain optimistic. Resilience is in our DNA. Fromour tea bushes to our people James Warren is resilient and we will continue to stand upto outside pressures to be well placed when this current cycle turns.
Akhil Kumar Ruia
Chief Executive Officer