The Tea Board India can facilitate meetings between the tea growers and the Tamil Nadu government’s agriculture and horticulture departments to address the challenges faced by the tea sector in Tamil Nadu, said Tea Board India Executive Director (Coonoor) M. Muthukumar.
Speaking at the annual meeting of the Planters’ Association of Tamil Nadu (PAT) in Coimbatore on Saturday (September 23, 2023), he said the planters had raised issues related to non-availability of fertiliser, labour costs, minimum wages, crop diversification, etc. Regarding fertiliser shortage felt by the planters in Tamil Nadu, the Tea Board also received such reports and it was taken up with the State government. The tea production in Tamil Nadu should increase but, the focus should be on quality. As much as 52 % production was from small growers in the State. The bought leaf factories and the growers should have an agreement where the growers get higher prices for quality leaves, he suggested.
Of the nearly 60,000 small tea growers in the Nilgiris, the Tea Board brought together 12,000 as farmer producer organisations, self- help groups, etc. There should be more collective groups so that the small growers are able to learn, innovate, and implement best agricultural practices, Mr. Muthukumar said.
Rakesh Mohan Joshi, Director of the Indian Institute of Plantation Management, urged the planters to improve efficiency and competitiveness and focus on better price realisation for tea.
C. Shreedharan, president of the United Planters Association of Southern India, elaborated on the initiatives taken on trial basis to enable planters to go in for crop diversification and realise higher revenue from the plantations.
Chairman of PAT T.J. Varghese Vaidyan spoke about the various issued faced by plantations in Tamil Nadu.
Mr. Muthukumar presented awards to children of estate workers who had scored high marks in the board examinations.