To boost demand for Northeast teas, the Tea Board of India in association with Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) recently organised a virtual meeting with a focus on Bihar and Jharkhand.
This was the 2nd virtual meet of the series of four meets to be organised for Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha markets, the ICC said in a statement.
In his welcome address, ICC-Northeast chairman Mahesh Saharia said: “Tea industry is the largest organised sector employer in Assam and more than half of the workforce is women.”
“With the health and immunity boosting properties of tea and the right kind of policy, consumption of Tea can substantially increase,” he said.
While welcoming the senior blenders and packeteers from Bihar and Jharkhand, he urged them to support good quality teas from the Northeast to boost tea consumption, as the cost of tea leaf per cup of tea is very nominal.
The deputy chairman of Tea Board of India, PK Sahoo said: “India is the 2nd largest producer of tea and 4th largest exporter with exports of 252 million kg.”
“Our country’s average per capita consumption is low as compared to world standards with India being in the 20th position,” he added.
In his Inaugural address, Dr. S Siddharth, principal secretary, department of industries, Bihar, urged the Tea Board of India to open a Tea Auction Centre in Kishanganj in order to help growers to sell their produce locally.
He requested the tea growers from Northeast to come to Kishanganj to put up processing and manufacturing facilities.
Dr. S Saravana Kumar, secretary, department of agriculture, Bihar, highlighted that Kishanganj is the only district with tea plantation of more than 45000 mt of raw tea leaves.
The webinar had valuable inputs from Joydip Biswas, deputy director, tea promotion, NEZO, Tea Board, who also invited the buyers from Bihar and Jharkhand to visit Northeast.
Northeast tea industry was represented by McLeod Russel, Siang Tea & Indusries, Anderson Tea Estates, Papumpare Tea Estate, Siru Rijo Tea Co, Borgang Tea Co, Vishnu Tea Company from the states of Assam, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya.
The virtual meet was participated by buyers, wholesalers, retailers, growers and packeteers from Bihar and Jharkhand.
Given the COVID19 pandemic situation and the added damages caused by the annual floods during June-July period, the tea industry has witnessed a decline in production.
“Tea production from the Northeast was 724 mn kg during 2018-19 (54% of the India’s production of 1350 mn kg), of which Assam contributed 655 mn kg, Arunachal Pradesh 12 mn kg and Tripura 9 mn kg, the largest three states in that order,” the ICC said in a statement.
Assam houses a total of 1,01,850 growers including 1,01,085 small growers, whereas for Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Meghalaya, the corresponding figures are 2,818; 1,718 and 646.
Many people in southern Arunachal Pradesh, bordering Assam, are involved in tea cultivation.
There are over 3,000 small gardens in Nagaland.
Meghalaya and Manipur also have tea gardens in Sohryngkham and Talui.
The webinar was organised to develop networking opportunities and generate the requisite business leads for the tea sellers of the Northeast.