The Tea Board of India has approved norms for setting up micro and mini tea factories by small tea growers (STG), who now account for around 35 per cent of India’s annual tea production.

Growers holding tea area up to 10-12 hectares are considered small tea growers, and there are around two lakh such holdings, it is learnt.

However, they do not normally have factories, and, therefore, feed their crop to large tea growers through bought leaf factories, which process the output of the STG sector.

The average annual yield from small holdings hovers around 2,500 kg of made tea /hectare, and this translates to 10,000 kg of green leaf.

It is decided that factories producing in the range of 22.5-225 kg of made tea per day would be classified as micro mini tea factories, and factories producing 450-500 kg of made tea would be labelled as mini-factories.

With the announcement of the guidelines, it is expected that the STG sector would be able to establish exclusive factories and adopt good manufacturing practices therein, a senior official of the Confederation of Indian Small Tea Growers Association (CISTA) said.

A Tea Board official said that the focus of the current plan was on collectivisation of growers to make them move up in value-chains.

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