The first conference of tribal tea growers was held in Coonoor on Monday.

The conference was facilitated by the Kotagiri-based Nilgiris Adivasi Welfare Association (NAWA), the Centre for Tribal and Rural Development (CTRD) of Ealamanna, and the Care India Foundation. Hundreds of tribal people cultivating tea in gardens extending over half an acre to two acres looked back, exchanged notes, and planned for the future at the conference.

Participating as the chief guest K.R. Arjunan, MP, urged the tribal farmers to make optimum use of the schemes being implemented for their benefit.

He added that the Tamil Nadu Government had always stood by the tea growers.

The Deputy Director, Tea Board, Hariprakash, said that under a Tea Board-assisted scheme 100 acres in Kotagiri had been brought under tea by tribal people.

Over the next two years another 100 acres would be converted into tea gardens. A subsidy of Rs. 25 lakhs had been extended to NAWA for setting up a mini tea factory.

Secretary, NAWA, M. Alwas said that the objective of the meeting was to add value to the tea cultivation activities of the tribal people.

President, NAWA, N. Rajalakshmi Subramanian; director, CTRD, R.S. Ranganathen; programme coordinator, United Planters Association of Southern India-Krishi Vigyan Kendra G. Ramamoorthy; and coordinator, Care India, Chandrashekaran spoke.

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