The Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and Tea Board India jointly conducted a series of virtual meetings to promote tea from the Northeast in the markets of six states outside the region.

These six states include Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.

A total of four virtual business to business meetings were conducted by Indian Chamber of Commerce in association Tea Board India.

The meetings were participated by industry captains, senior government officials, tea traders, tea blenders and all relevant stakeholders.

The objective was to convert low-tea drinking states of India into promising markets – where the potential for consumption of tea is high, the ICC said in a statement.

The first virtual meeting was conducted with a focus on Uttar Pradesh on August 18, 2020.

The meeting attracted wholesalers and retailers from the UP and NCR Region so that they engage in business with the sellers from the Northeast.

In this meeting, Mahesh Saharia, chairman, ICC, Northeast stated that tea industry is the largest organised sector employer in Assam and more than half of the workforce are women.

He expected an increase of over 50 million kgs of tea in UP once the webinar identifies the bottleneck in the supply chain and addresses the same.

While welcoming the blenders and packeteers from UP and NCR, he urged them to support good quality teas from Northeast to boost tea consumption.

PK Bezbaruah, chairman, Tea Board India and co-chairman, ICC Northeast applauded Tea Board’s initiative to extend promotional campaigns in parts of the country where per capita consumption of tea is low.

He mentioned that this Webinar involves all the local packeteers of UP on board and this would facilitate direct benefit to the sector.

Dr. KK Dwivedi, commissioner  & secretary, Assam, highlighted that the Assam government has come out with a new scheme for the tea sector.

The second virtual business to business meeting was conducted with a focus on Bihar and Jharkhand on September 18,2020.

In his welcome address, Mahesh Saharia, chairman, ICC, Northeast stated that with the health and immunity boosting properties of tea and the right kind of government policies, consumption of tea can substantially increase.

Saharia while speaking on the occasion urged the blenders, packeteers and producers from Bihar and Jharkhand to blend their tea with Assam Tea which would improve the quality and it would prove to be a win-win proposition for both Northeast and Bihar/Jharkhand.

The deputy chairman of Tea Board India, PK Sahoo, informed that India is the 2nd largest producer of tea and 4th largest exporter with exports of 252 million kg and India being is a big country and therefore, we have a potential to increase consumption.

He informed that the basic purpose of the webinar is to increase domestic consumption of tea in India.

Dr. S ‘Siddhartha, principal secretary, industries, government of Bihar, urged Tea Board India to open a Tea Auction Centre in Kishanganj in order to help growers to sell their produce locally.

The 3rd virtual business to business meeting was conducted with the focus on Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on November 25, 2020.

In his welcome address, Mahesh Kumar Saharia, chairman, Indian Chamber of Commerce, Northeast Chapter, highlighted the vision document prepared by ICC and the acknowledgement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the contribution of the organization towards Northeast.

He cited the example of Dubar India promoting their honey with Assam tea to boost immunity in the recent times of coronavirus.

Prabhat Bezbarua, chairman of Tea Board of India, said about creating new national and international markets for tea from Northeast.

In his keynote address, PK Sahoo, deputy chairman of Tea Board of India, said the cost of production of tea has gone up whereas the price has been more or less flat over the years.

While the Indian consumers prefer CTC tea the more premium Orthodox Tea is mostly exported.

While the states like Gujrat and Maharastra and Goa prefer good quality tea, states like Andhra Pradesh and Telengana have consumption of low quality tea.

He said while Assam Tea is world famous, states like Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya are also coming up with very high quality tea.

Giridhara Rao, joint director of industries department of the government of India, welcomed the tea sellers from Northeast to tie up with the NGOs of Andhra Pradesh to promote packaging and branding of Assam Tea.

The fourth virtual meet with focus on Odisha was held on February 10, 2021.

In his welcome address, Mahesh Kumar Saharia said as per the ‘Domestic Consumption Study’ conducted by the Deloitte, India’s per capita tea consumption (PCC) turns out to be 0.786 kg per year and Odisha has PCC of 378 gm per annum only, which is the lowest in the country.

Saharia said there are no major blenders or packeteers of Odisha, which is one of the major reasons for low consumption of tea in the state.

In all the webinars, the Northeast tea growers, blenders, traders had meaningful business to business discussion with the businessman from these states related with tea business in these states, the ICC further stated.

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