The Tea Board of India is in the process of setting up a separate outfit for the development of the small tea growers sector, which now contributes nearly 28 per cent of India’s annual tea output. It is also planning to issue biometric identity cards for the nearly two lakh growers.
Tea Board Deputy Chairman Roshni Sen said that the industry regulator was in the process of establishing a separate Development Directorate with requisite manpower for looking after the development needs of small tea growers. “We are also planning to provide identity cards to the small tea growers that would entitle them to the benefits” she told The Hindu .
She said that the proposed directorate was being set up to mainly improve the quality of tea produced by this segment of tea growers. “We will also recruit and appoint development officers for providing extension services at the field and the factory,” Ms. Sen said, adding that the idea was to get good value for the produce.
Ms. Sen said that recently a convention was held in Jalpaiguri district for creating awareness among small tea growers about the importance of acting as a collective for moving up the value chain and also for availing themselves of the various support measures available from the Tea Board for improving productivity and quality of green leaf for improved price realisation.
The practice of producing teas in small patches of land started in the South mostly under a co-operative system in the nineties. The phenomenon spread geographically gaining momentum by 1997-98 in tandem with the rising fortunes of the industry, an industry source said. Although the South still has the largest proportion of such growers, small tea growers have become a force to reckon with in Assam and in West Bengal. The President of the Confederation of Indian Small Tea Growers’ Association, Bijoy Gopal Chakravarty, said that setting up of the Directorate was part of a long-standing demand of small tea growers.
Tea Board plans to set up Development Directorate to improve the quality of tea produced by this segment