Small tea growers on hunger strike in the Nilgiris

September 02, 2023 08:28 pm | Updated 08:28 pm IST - COIMBATORE

Small tea growers observing a fast at Ithalar and Nanjanad villages near Udhagamandalam on Friday.

Small tea growers observing a fast at Ithalar and Nanjanad villages near Udhagamandalam on Friday. | Photo Credit: M. SATHYAMOORTHY

Small tea growers in the Nilgiris are staging a protest since Friday, demanding “realistic” prices for green tea leaves.

The Naaku Betta Badagar Welfare Association, which called for the continuous hunger strike in the respective panchayats and villages, has submitted a memorandum to the officials concerned seeking payment of minimum support price for green leaves purchased from the tea growers.

It said a High Court order in this regard issued in 2008 should be implemented. Similarly, the prices should be fixed based on the MS Swaminathan Committee. The Department of Horticulture estimated the actual cost of production to be ₹22.29 for a kg of green leaves. If the MS Swaminathan Committee recommendation was implemented, the farmers should get ₹33.45 for a kg.

The growers said they got just ₹11 to ₹14 a kg and were shelling out nearly ₹10 a kg to just produce the tea leaves. There were over 80,000 small growers in the Nilgiris district who supplied to Indco tea factories and private factories.

“The growers have stopped picking tea leaves and this is expected to affect supplies to the tea factories. The officials should ensure the livelihood and welfare of the small tea growers of the Nilgiris district and India in large,” the Association said in its memorandum.

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