A Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce has come down on the tea industry regulator, the Tea Board of India, and its administrative ministry saying that complacency seems to have set in their efforts.
In its report submitted before parliament on August 9, the committee has recommended that the authorities concerned analyse the reasons behind the industry’s failures and take necessary action to redeem the situation.
The committee expressed its concern over certain critical areas such as , exports, e-auction, special purpose tea fund, small growers, and quality of South Indian tea. On e-auction, it wants the Commerce department to re-visit the system and come out with an optimal solution as it felt that sellers who are not on the electronic platform are suffering.
It has also recommended that the Government consider declaring tea as a national drink keeping in mind the heritage value that the drink carries. This will give tea the desired prominence in promotional schemes and activities, strengthening the beverage’s association with India in global markets and helping in exports.
The panel has noted that tea production in India has gone down since 2007. China has, in the meanwhile, increased its production consistently, widening the gap between itself and India from around 154 million kgs in 2007 to nearly 509 million kgs in 2010.
With a 23 per cent share, India is the second largest tea producing country in the world after China which has a 32 per cent share of world productionOn the Special Purpose Tea Fund, which was rolled out in 2008 to usher in major rejuvenation , the committee has noted that the programme has failed to yield the desired results mainly due to high interest rate on loans, inadequate subsidies and non -cognisance of specific local conditions.