Minister says joint efforts needed to solve crisis in tea sector
Udhagamandalam: A committee will be constituted to explore the possibility of fixing floor price for raw tea leaves grown by small farmers of the district, said the Rural Industries Minister, Pongalur Palanisamy, here on Wednesday.
Winding up an interaction between representatives of various sections of the tea industry and the government on the demand of the small growers for a floor price, he said that the proposed 11-member committee would be headed by the District Collector and include officials and industry representatives.
Though the demand for a floor price of Rs. 15 a kg was long standing, the problems of the tea planting community cannot be solved overnight, he said. If everybody join hands it was possible to find a lasting solution. Promising that the interests of the farmers would be safeguarded, he said that the government was keen on accelerating the growth rate in the farm sector. The growth rate which was 4 per cent had come down to 3 per cent.
The Khadi Board Minister, K. Ramachandran, who presided said that following the recent directive of the High Court to take appropriate action on a plea made by the Nilgiri Tea Growers Protection Council for a minimum support price, the government had sought three months time to submit a report.
The Nilgiris District Vivasayigal Sangam president, A. Bellie said that though a large number of meetings had been held and several agitations organised, the crisis in the industry continued.
Prominent industrialist T.Gundan said that the need of the hour was team work. Though concessions like reduction in Value Added Tax had been extended to tea traders the benefits were yet to trickle down to the growers.
The council secretary, K.B. Bojan said that if the Centre and State work out a sharing arrangement a floor price can be provided.
The Nilgiris District Tea Buyers Association president, N.C. Singania said that if the quality of tea was good the prices would be high.
The Nilgiri Small and Tiny Growers Association president, J.B. Subramaniam expressed the hope that a clear picture of the situation prevailing here would be provided to the government.
Lead by example
B. Gopalan, MLA, said that in manufacturing tea and offering rates to the growers the Industrial Cooperative Tea Factories should lead by example.
A. Soundarapandian, MLA, Bought Leaf Tea Manufacturers Association president M.R. Bheeman and the Tea Board Assistant Director, K.K. Bhatacharya spoke.