Posted by: Sujoy Das | January 2, 2012

Tea Industry: Tea Board office moves to Jorhat

The Telegraph North East

Jorhat, Jan. 1: The decision of the Tea Board of India to shift its regional office from Guwahati to Jorhat and set up a separate directorate for small tea growers in Dibrugarh, has been widely hailed by the tea industry in Upper Assam.

Former chairman of Assam Tea Planters’ Association and tea planter Raj Barooah said Jorhat being considered the tea capital as well as the cultural capital of Assam, it was definitely a very good move to shift the office from Guwahati to Jorhat.

“Upper Assam is the tea belt of Assam and contributes to the largest amount of tea to the country. Historically also if one sees, it will be seen that tea plantations were started by the British from Jorhat and this part of the state and it is only right that the office be located here,” Barooah said.

He pointed out that in south India where a certain amount of tea is also produced, the tea board office was situated in Coonoor in Tamil Nadu and not at its capital Chennai or in Bangalore or Thiruvananthapuram, capitals of two other tea-producing states — Karnataka and Kerala.

Tamil Nadu produces about 21 per cent while Kerala produces 5 per cent and Karnataka 2 to 3 per cent of total tea produced in the country.

“This is a positive move which will help bring tea growers and manufacturers into a proper relationship with the tea board and foster better interaction,” he said.

Secretary of Tea Association of India J.N. Baruah said the shift would help the tea board serve the people… regarding production and marketing.

“This is a welcome move as the tea board was previously out of reach of the people but now they would be able to avail the services and the board would also be able to function after getting a right perspective,” Baruah said.

He said with the Tocklai Experimental Station, North East Institute of Science and Technology and the Assam Agricultural University all working to greater or smaller extent in improving quality and increasing production, they could work together with the tea board to give the best to the Industry.

Bharatiya Chah Parishad member Kanakeswar Senchowa said the move was late in coming as former Union minister of state for commerce Jairam Ramesh three years ago questioned why the Tea board office was headquartered outside the state and the regional office at such a distance from the tea belt.

“Though late, the shifting will help the tea board to work better for the industry as regards marketing, price control and formulating other policies. As the regional office was so far away, often many cases went unrepresented as many did not have the time or inclination to travel so far,” he said.

In regard to the setting up of a directorate for small tea growers, Karuna Mahanta, secretary of All Assam Small Tea Growers’ Association, said this would help solve the problems of small tea growers faster. The tea board could also take some decisions regarding training of small tea growers.

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