As part of its agricultural diversification efforts, the government supported the large-scale production of tea in the late 1960s. Second to sugar in exports, tea covered 2,870 hectares in 1991. The Tea Development Authority (TDA) owned and managed three-fourths of this land, which it leased to tenant growers. Although tea thrives on the island's higher elevations, production has been hindered by high costs, including labor, and fluctuations in world prices. Since 1986 the government has subsidized tea production to compensate for low prices. In the same year, it established the Mauritius Tea Factories Company to manage four factories that had been run by the TDA.
Tea production reached 8,115 tons in 1985, its highest level, only to decline steadily to 5,918 tons in 1991. Export earnings have declined from MauR104 million in 1986 to MauR83 million in 1991. The government is considering other uses for its teaplanted land in the face of continuing economic pressures.
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