India’s tea industry has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, with upwards of 1 million tea estate farmers and owners facing hardships because of the failing crop, low cash flow and zero revenue, Vahdam Tea reports.

“The timing of the lockdown could not have come at a worse time,” says Vahdam Founder Bala Sarda. “In North Indian tea estates, plucking for the 2020 season had just started when the close-down occurred. For Darjeeling tea estates, this meant the entire 2020 season first flush teas, which are some of the most expensive and account for nearly 20 percent of Darjeeling revenues, were lost.”

In response, Sarda announced that Vahdam would offer an interest-free loan program of $100,000 to tea estates in the form of a short-term advance given to tea growers for a period of 90 days, to ease cash flow and pay workers.

“As tea growers are looking at peak cropping months of May, June and July, especially in North India, it is critical that their estates continue to remain operational during the lockdown,” Sarda explains. “The advance given by Vahdam will provide much-needed funds to pay workers at the estates, and ensure there is continuity of labor and materials as the peak second flush season arrives.”