Centre push helps expand NE organic tea farming area

GUWAHATI: The Centre is according priority to promotion and development of organic tea farming in Northeast with as many as 3737.80 hectares under organic tea farming in five states, including Meghalaya.

Union minister of commerce and industry, Piyush Goyal while replying to a question in the Lok Sabha said that the Tea Board has accorded due priority under the Tea Development and Promotion Scheme (TDPS) for promotion and development of organic tea farming in the country.

Thanks to the Centre’s organic tea push, currently, there are 69 organic gardens/small holdings, with Assam having 45 of them, Tripura 15 while Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland have three gardens each.

Since 2016-17, a total of Rs 250.70lakh has been provided under TDPS as financial assistance to promote organic tea farming in Assam and Tripura.

According to Tea Board sources, registration has been issued for setting up an organic tea factory in Assam during 2016-17 while certificate has been issued for an organic mini tea factory in Meghalaya under Control Order.

Under TDPS, 50 per cent cost of certification including renewals with ceiling of Rs 2lakh per certificate is provided for organic plantations while the same facility is provided to each factory per financial year. Small tea growers can avail Rs 2lakh per hectare for organic conversion.

The tea produced by the ARSLA Organic Tea Growers’ and Producers’ Cooperative Society in its plant at Umsning since last year, was certified organic in April 2019.

“We have received financial help under the Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region which is a central sector scheme launched by the agriculture ministry. Now since financial assistance can be availed from only one source (in this case agriculture ministry), we cannot expect to avail the same from the industry and commerce ministry. We should therefore uphold the norm,” KW Chyne, the co-promoter of the cooperative co-operative society, told The Shillong Times on Thursday.

“But yes, after we get our factory registered with the district commerce and industries department, minor subsidies such as power, capital, interest can be availed under state industrial promotion policy,” Chyne said.

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