Assam industries and commerce minister Chandra Mohan Patowary interacted with stakeholders of the tea industry at Assam Administrative Staff College in Guwahati on Wednesday.
The meeting was basically to discuss the issues and challenges currently faced by the tea industry and to find out solutions through a meaningful dialogue.
Representatives from various tea associations like Indian Tea Association (ITA), North Eastern Tea Association (NETA), Tea Association of India (TAI), Bharatiya Cha Parishad (BCP), Surma Valley Branch Indian Tea Association (SVBITA), All Assam Small Tea Growers Association (AASTGA) etc were present.
The representatives laid down in details the causes for the downward trend of tea industry like the high cost of production vs unremunerative prices.
They also highlighted oversupply leading to depressed prices, dual economic structure – Registered Tea Gardens (RTG) vs Bought Leaf Factory (BLF) sectors among others.
Climate change, policy interventions like, need for a sustainable minimum price, labeling, origin and rating of tea (LOR formula), power subsidy, minimum price for green tea leaf linked with good quality leaf, QR code for traceability of tea sold privately etc were also discussed.
The Small Tea Growers Association admitted that quality of tea has declined over the years and advocated the necessity of enforcement to check the quality of tea.
Minister Patowary, while addressing the associations stated that the Assam tea continues to be the pride of the State and hence the State Government is committed for development of the tea industry and welfare of its people.
He mentioned that the Government understands the issues and challenges faced by the tea industry and will look into the pragmatic, feasible and reasonable suggestions placed from the stakeholders.
The minister called upon the tea gardens to improve the quality of tea to compete in the global market.
He underscored the importance of diversification of tea like green tea, yellow tea, white tea, golden tea, jasmine tea etc.
These varieties enjoy higher demand than the traditional CTC ones.
The minister mentioned that there will be budget provision for research and development of tea for the Tocklai Tea Research Institute.
He called upon the big tea gardens to allocate five per cent of land for other plants like agar, coffee, black pepper, etc.
He declared that a third party agency will be engaged to study the current crisis of the tea industry and submit a report for better management, marketing, technical support, packaging, design, market linkage etc.
He also told that a Tea Park following the model of Dubai Tea Park will be built at Chaygaon which will boost the export market of Assam tea.
Commissioner of Industries and Commerce Department, Dr K K Dwivedi; MD, AIDC, Virendra Mittal; chairman, Tea Board of India, Prabhat Kamal Bezbaruah and other officials were present in the meeting.