Diya New CTC tea brand

Within just 30 days of its launch, Diya, a new brand of CTC tea, has set the cash registers ringing.

Promoted by Jagriti Mahila Unnayan Sangha — a cluster of 30 self-help groups (SHGs) — more than 2,000kg of the new brew has been sold and orders are pouring in from across the state.

“The attempt to merchandise branded CTC tea has shown an overwhelming initial response,” said Biswajit Das, the secretary of Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, North Bengal (Focin). “We had estimated a maximum sale of just about 500kg during the first month.”

Officials of the District Rural Development Cell (DRDC) of Siliguri and Focin had been instrumental in launching the product. All necessary initiatives to promote the branded tea were made and the brew was formally launched by Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on June 30.

At present, the SHG members are operating from a garage within the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad premises, that has been renovated and made suitable for blending and packaging of tea.

“Members of the Sangha have already become experts at their job,” said Paritosh Roy, the project director of DRDC. “They are also managing ancillary tasks like maintenance of accounts books and stock registers and depositing VAT and other central sales tax on their own.”

The tea is at present available in 100g packs, which have been priced at Rs 14 for the common people, while it is Rs 10 per packet for wholesalers. According to Das, packets of 50g and 250g will also be launched soon to cater to popular demand.

“We have sent our tea to Bankura, Hooghly, 24-Paraganas (South), Midnapore and Malda besides the Siliguri market,” said Swapna Chik Barik, the secretary of the group. “New orders are pouring in from Howrah, North Dinajpur, Burdwan, Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri.”

The members, however, are looking forward to orders from Writers’ Buildings as proposed by the chief minister during the launch. “The chief minister had told us that our tea could be purchased for consumption at Writers’ Buildings,” one of them said. “We are eagerly waiting for the order and are banking on local minister Asok Bhattacharya to push the deal through.”

The success of the venture, which was considered offbeat for SHG members — most groups are engaged in toy making, tailoring, handicrafts, dairy and animal husbandry — has brought cheer to the 325 families which are dependent on the project’s success.

“It is like any other company. The profits will be calculated after the earnings accumulate at the end of the year,” said Barik. “However, we are planning to fix a salary for the group of 20-25 members who are putting in time and effort on a regular basis.”

Source: The Telegraph