Assam govt to engage agency to study crisis hitting tea industry

GUWAHATI: Assam’s Industries and Commerce Minister, Chandra Mohan Patowary on Wednesday interacted with the stakeholders of the tea industry at Assam Administrative Staff College here on challenges currently faced by the tea industry and to find out solutions.

Representatives from various tea planters’ associations like Indian Tea Association (ITA), North Eastern Tea Association (NETA), Tea Association of India (TAI), Bharatiya Cha Parishad (BCP), Surma Valley Branch Indian Tea Association (SVBITA), All Assam Small Tea Growers Association (AASTGA) etc., attended the meeting with the Minister.

Industries and Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said the Government of Assam was committed for development of the tea industry and welfare of its people. He mentioned that Government understood the issues and challenges faced by the tea industry and would look into the pragmatic, feasible and reasonable suggestions put forward by the stakeholders.

The Minister mentioned that there will be budget provision for research and development of tea for the Tocklai Tea Research Institute. He called upon the big tea gardens to allocate 5% of land for other plants like agar, coffee, black pepper, etc.

He declared that a third party agency would be engaged to study the current crisis of the tea industry and submit a report for better management, marketing, technical support, packaging, design, market linkage etc. He also told that a Tea Park following the model of Dubai Tea Park will be built at Chaygaon which will boost the export market of Assam tea.

The Minister called upon the tea gardens to improve the quality of tea to compete in the global market. He underscored the importance of diversification of tea like green tea, yellow tea, white tea, golden tea, jasmine tea etc. as these varieties enjoy higher demand than the traditional CTC ones.

Earlier, the representatives of the tea planters’ association laid down in details about causes behind the downward trend  hitting  tea industry including the high cost of production vs unremunerative prices, oversupply leading to depressed prices, dual economic structure – Registered Tea Gardens (RTG) vs Bought Leaf Factory (BLF) sectors, climate change, policy interventions like, need for a sustainable minimum price, Labeling, Origin and Rating of tea (LOR formula), power subsidy, minimum price for green tea leaf linked with good quality leaf, QR code for traceability of tea sold privately etc.

The Small Tea Growers Association admitted that quality of tea has declined over the years and advocated the necessity of enforcement to check the quality of tea.

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