Efforts on to help tea industry

UDHAGAMANDALAM SEPT. 26. All efforts were being made to help the tea industry which was now going through difficult times, said the Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Vidyasagar Rao while presiding over a session on, "Plantation Outlook" organised as part of the 110th annual conference of the United Planters Association of Southern India (UPASI) at "Glenview" in Coonoor today.

Listing some of the schemes such as the Price Stabilization Fund (PSF) scheme with a corpus of Rs. 500 crores evolved to help the planting community particularly in the small sector and the initiatives taken to restructure loans, he said, "my doors are always open for suggestions to work out ways to get remunerative prices for plantation products like tea and coffee". Adverting to a demand by the small tea growers to implement a subsidy scheme, he said that under the present circumstances it may not be easy. More on the issue may be mentioned by the Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, Arun Jaitley (when he inaugurates the conference on Saturday).

The Additional Secretary, Commerce L. V. Saptharishi while referring to the presence of the Pakistani delegation, observed that, in times of trouble it was only natural for "brothers to help each other". Pointing out that the participation of the Pakistan delegation was the first of its kind, he said that due to historical reasons the tea consumption pattern in India and Pakistan was similar. The Chairman, Tea Board N. K. Das said that though India was the largest producer of tea it was fourth in the list of tea exporting countries. Urging the South Indian Tea manufacturers to make their presence felt at the "India Show" in China later this year, he said that emphasis on generic promotion of tea should increase.

The Chairperson, Coffee Board, Lakshmi Venkatachalam, the Director, Rubber Research Institute of India, N. M. Mathew and the Director (Development) Spices Board, Koshy John also participated. The President, UPASI, P. S. Walia welcomed the gathering.

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