Posted by: Sujoy Das | March 1, 2012

Tea Board plans district-level meet of small growers

The Hindu

Santanu Sanyal

Kolkata, Feb 28:

The Tea Board, according to its Chairman Mr M.G.V.K. Bhanu, proposes to hold district-level conventions of small tea growers to educate them about proper agricultural practices.

“This will help them produce quality leaves commanding remunerative prices,” Mr Bhanu told Business Line.

The first convention, as he indicated, would be held in the third week of April in Sonitpur district of Assam and leaflets explaining how to produce better crops would be distributed among those to be present. Also, the successful small growers from various States would be invited to narrate their experiences.

Focus on small growers

“We have chosen Sonitpur as the venue for the first convention because the district has as many as 12,500 small growers but we intend to hold similar conventions also in other districts with concentration of small growers,” he said.

Sadly, as the Tea Board Chairman regretted, the policy pursued so far lacked the focus on problems facing nearly two lakh small growers accounting for 26 per cent of the country’s total tea production. No extension service was available to them nor any scientific knowledge or technology either to boost production or improve the quality of leaves. There were other problems too like the problem of marketing, pricing of produce, resource crunch, not-too-satisfactory equation with bought leaf factories, in fact the list was long.

“We will address most of these issues,” he said. “For the 12th Plan, we’ve asked for a good amount for the development of small growers but how much will be the actual allocation is difficult to estimate right now”. He, however, made it clear that the models of Sri Lanka and Kenya would not be replicated here.

“We will have our own model. We want small growers to regroup themselves into self-help groups, set up their own factories and develop own brands,” he observed.

The proposed Small Tea Growers’ Development Directorate, with headquarter in Dibrugarh, Assam, and branches in other places, would start functioning from September, he said. A total of 95 posts were being created for the directorate – 82 of them technical and 13 non-technical.

Meanwhile, in a memorandum presented to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce, the Confederation of Indian Small Tea Growers’ Association has demanded opening of Tea Board’s field offices at Kokrajhar (Assam), Islampur (West Bengal), Waynad (Kerala) and Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh).

Simplification of schemes

It has also stressed the need for simplification of existing schemes designed to benefit small growers, enforcement of price-sharing formula, introduction of plantation credit card and insurance and welfare schemes for workers in small tea gardens and supplying subsidised fertilisers to these gardens.

In a pre-budget memorandum to the Finance Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, the association has raised similar demands.

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Responses

  1. Thanks Sujoy, This really keeps us posted on all that we miss while we are on the move.
    Regards Harki

  2. Thanks Mr Sidhu,
    I am in Jorhat myself at the moment in a garden for software implementation trying to stay in touch with the world through my laptop and 3G connection!


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