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Tea cultivation in China and Japan is largely developed as a family enterprise. From the point of view of antiquity these two countries lead the world.
China. Based on her home market, China has a large tea acreage and production. Before 1938 the Chinese production varied between 278 and 362 thousand metric tons. The Japanese invasion caused a huge damage to the tea cultivation and the production. Northern side of the Yangtze Valley and the northern rim of the Si-Kaing Valley are major regions of the Chinese tea production. The paucity of arable land with relation to its requirement has led to the development to tea growing largely on slopes of the mountains. Generally three pickings are made each year the earliest gathering being the best. China produced 350 thousand metric tones of tea in 1987-88.
Japan. Japan produces tea from the decreasing acreage and the modes of production are in many ways akin to those in China. Confined mainly to lower slopes and terraced uplands on either side of the mountains, tea in Japan is grown most intensively in Ishizuki, representing Japan's 50% production. In general soils are red, and are rich in iron, humus and volcanic ash. The slopes and terraces are difficult to negotiate and hence, pack transportation is generally used. The tea areas receive 150 cm to 200 cm of rainfall. Four pickings are possible but three is the usual number in most of the tea areas. On an average Japan produces 6% of world's production of tea.
The foregoing two old tea-growing areas of world stand in sharp contrast to the plantation tea culture in southern Asia and the emerging nations of East Africa. India is by far the most important country of those with plantation tea culture. Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Russia, Kenya and Bangladesh are the other important producers of tea.
Sri Lanka. The tea plantation in Sri Lanka dates back to the late sixties and seventies of the last century and is traceable to the destruction of coffee plantation by blight. The coffee planters to avoid bankruptcy, readily turned to the farming of tea. Tea plantations of Sri Lanka are almost entirely located on the mountainous land of the south-central part of the island, which receive 450 cm to 500 cm of well-distributed annual precipitation. Most of the estates are concentrated at an average elevation of 1.000 meters though plantation is well developed at much lower altitude as also at much higher extending up to 2,200 meters. Sri Lanka produces about 12% of world tea production. Production of tea in 1987-88 amounted to 560 million lbs. She exported 485 million lbs of tea in 1987-88.
Indonesia. Java and Sumatra are the major tea growing islands of Indonesia where the development of large plantations is relatively recent. Small farms of the natives also exist side by side and play important role in the total production of Indonesia. In Java tea is mostly grown on the steep slopes of the volcanic mountains of the western part of the island. Altitudes ranging from 200 meters to 1,650 meters are cultivated with tea, but the greater part of the development is between 500 meters and 1,150 meters. Small native farms account for nearly 40% of the tea production of Java. In Sumatra the tea plantations are largely developed in the northeastern part and correspond to elevations ranging from 375 meters to 800 meters. Sumatra supplies about 15% of Indonesia production 4 tea. Ocean highways and cheap labour supply favored the growth of tea. Indonesia produces about 5% of world output.
Other regions. The cultivation of tea has .been developed in many other countries but in the sphere of production they are yet to become a force. Neatly 78% of the world's tea is produced by India, Sri Lanka, China, Japan and Indonesia. Kenya, Malawi and Bangladesh together contribute about 6% of the world's output.
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