Small tea growers have sought a quota for supply of subsidised fertilizer for the segment, saying that the recent hike in prices of urea and potash was causing a huge loss to the sector. According to them, the regular supply of fertilizer at affordable rates is a key input for determining the quality and yield of green tea leaf.
At present, small tea growers have to buy fertilizers from the open market.
They now account for nearly 30 per cent of India’s tea production, against the five per cent share that they had in the 1990s.
Growing tea on land up to 25 acres is the classification norm for small tea growers (STGs). Assam has the largest share of STGs, followed by West Bengal and the southern states.
In a budget wish-list submitted recently to the government, the Confederation of Indian Small Tea Growers Associations (CISTA) said that there were various financial issues related to the livelihood and sustainability of the growers.
CISTA has within its ambit small tea growers associations in Assam, West Bengal,Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Tripura, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Nagaland.
Urging the Union Finance Minister to extend credit facilities for the sector, CISTA urged the government to launch a plantation credit card for the small tea growers as there is no arrangement for institutional finance.