Centre asks industry, Tea Board to evolve a time-bound plan to revive sector

Direction follows a meeting between stakeholders, Union Commerce Ministry

The Centre has asked the Tea Board and the industry to work out an ‘actionable’ plan for the industry’s revival.

The direction follows a meeting held between stakeholders and the Union Commerce Ministry at New Delhi on Wednesday during which key issues pertaining to the sector were discussed.

Tea subsidy

The main points discussed during the meeting revolved around land, MNREGA, orthodox tea subsidy, ease-of- doing business and minimum benchmark price.

The industry wanted the State government to allow a larger extent of tea land for cultivation of alternative crops and other uses (like tourism). The industry wanted this to be raised to 20% from the 5% now.

Some stakeholders appealed to the government to set a minimum benchmark price at the auctions and for an increase in the production of premium orthodox tea.

Discussions also revolved around the simplification of the licensing system and allowing export of tea waste of up to 10 million kg.

The industry also wanted temporary tea workers to be allowed to participate in MNREGA, especially during winter months.

“We found the discussions fruitful,” said Vivek Goenka , chairman, Indian Tea Association.

Bijoy Chakraborty , representing the interest of small tea growers (STG) said the STG segment wanted traditional farmers’ status and a dedicated fund.

Earlier in an appeal seeking government intervention, the industry sought help in areas like fixing a minimum reserve price for tea in auction based on production cost and a five-year ban on expansion of tea areas to tackle oversupply. It said the viability of the sector was at threat as the sector was incurring losses due to rising costs and stagnant prices.

The nearly three-hour-long meeting was taken by Joint Secretary (Plantations) Darpan Jain and attended by representatives of industry , company heads, members of the bought leaf sector, exporters, auctioneers and research bodies.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 6:11:33 AM |

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