Tea Board seeks ₹1,000 crore for next five years for the industry 

‘Demand takes into account small tea growers, orthodox subsidies to industry, technology and research as well as promotion’

November 10, 2022 09:08 pm | Updated 09:08 pm IST - Kolkata

The Tea Board has sought an assistance of ₹1,000 crore from the Ministry of Commerce for the tea industry in the next five years.

Tea Board chairman Sourav Pahari said the proposed budget for five years starting 2022-23 takes into account small tea growers (STGs), orthodox subsidies to the industry, technology and research as well as promotion.

Mr. Pahari said 52% of total tea production in the country comes from STGs and it is good to note that the tea industry on the whole now acknowledges the contribution of the STGs. He also added that the relations between big tea planters and the STGs “should not be adversarial”.

Speaking at the 139th Annual General Meeting of Indian Tea Association (ITA), Mr. Pahari said Indian tea had to be developed as a brand and no longer as a bulk commodity export. “Indian Tea must be recognised the world over. Darjeeling Tea should be recognised as an Indian brand. Industry has not been focussed on [branding Indian tea] overseas,“ he said. 

He added that assistance sought from the Ministry included a component on promotion of Indian tea.

The Chairman also stressed the need to raise domestic consumption, particularly when exports were down. “With exports having slowed down, a lot of tea is being dumped in the domestic markets, which we are not consuming. We consume less than one kg tea [per capita] per year. If the demand goes up by 1 kg, our producers will get a better price,” Mr. Pahari said. He also added that exports were not picking up at a rate the industry expects so domestic consumption has to increase.

ITA Chairperson Nayantara Palchoudhuri said that consumption per capita in India despite the increase to the current level of 850 gm was less than our neighbouring countries. Ms. Palchoudhuri said tea exports during 2022 are expected to touch 230 million kg, compared with 196 million kg in the previous year. “We have to target a volume of 350 Mkg (million kg) within the next 3-4 years,” she added.

The chairperson flagged issues relating to the Darjeeling tea industry and said that for revival, fiscal interventions by the way of a special financial package for the industry needed to be considered without delay. Ms. Palchoudhuri has been also appointed as the chairperson of the proposed Asia Tea Alliance of which industry bodies of Sri Lanka, China, Indonesia, Nepal, and Bangladesh are members.

She pointed out that the alliance was set up in 2019 but in view of the pandemic, the agenda of the alliance could not progress in 2020 and 2021 but now it would focus on forging a memorandum of understanding among members.

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