The Union Government has set up a directorate, as part of the Tea Board, exclusively for small tea growers to address the issues of these growers, Jyotiraditya M. Scindia, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, said here on Friday.
Speaking to presspersons after inaugurating the 119th conference of the United Planters’ Association of Southern India (UPASI), he said this was an important measure for the welfare of small growers. The initiative was now only for the tea sector. This could be extended to other plantation sectors, if needed.
The plantation sector was expected to see higher outlay in the XII Plan with focus on various areas such as research and development and small growers. The Minister said that some of the areas of importance for the tea sector were re-plantation and rejuvenation, increase in exports, and tackling challenges such as labour shortage and higher mechanisation.
The domestic market for tea was seeing healthy growth. However, India should also increase its tea exports, and, hence, the government had come out with the Triple Five (555) scheme.
“I am monitoring the scheme closely myself,” he said. Under this, the focus would be on five markets with five major measures for five years. For the first phase, the government had sanctioned Rs.6.5 crore for this scheme.
Tea production was 976 million kg last year and domestic consumption 840 million kg. Exports were 191 million kg.
The Ministry would also pursue the demand of the tea industry to share the social cost for the welfare of the workers, he said.
The price sharing formula scheme would be restructured to increase its popularity and make it more beneficiary-friendly, he added. The scheme for mechanisation, which was introduced for coffee, would be continued in the XII Plan.
C. S. Bedi, Chairman of the Consultative Committee of Plantation Associations, said some of the challenges faced by the sector were availability of land and the need for sustainable growth.
D. Hegde, President, UPASI, expressed concern over the steep increase in the cost of production. He also felt the need for revamping some of the legislations, including amendments made to the Employees Provident Fund Scheme.
Ancheril is UPASI President
G. J. Ancheril, on Saturday, was today elected as President of the United Planters’ Association of Southern India (UPASI) for 2012-13.
Peter Mathias was elected Vice-President of the association at the 119th annual conference of UPASI, an association release said.