Tea Brew hardshell meet

Tea growers in north Bengal are thinking of holding a convention to project the brew produced in the Dooars and Terai.

The India International Tea Convention (IITC) in Guwahati, which ended on Saturday, has left the stakeholders of the brew industry in north Bengal unhappy. Other than a session titled Indian Panorama, in which every variety and place of tea production was highlighted, the CTC brew produced in the Terai and Dooars was never mentioned during the event, said one of them.

“Tea from north Bengal was hardly highlighted,” said N.K. Basu, the principal adviser to the Indian Tea Planters’ Association. “We feel it necessary to project the tea produced in the Terai and Dooars to augment its export like the Assam tea. The latter was presented as a premium brand at the IITC.”

After Guwahati, it is a two-day event in Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra that has left many growers in north Bengal toying with the idea of holding a similar meet, focusing on the region’s tea.

Tying up with Tea Board of India and the Institute of Himalayan Bioscience Technology, the Kangra Valley Small Tea Producers’ Association will organize the conference titled Kangra Vision 2020 at Palampur from tomorrow.

“The basic idea is to promote the orthodox tea that we produce here for export and also for domestic consumption,” J.L. Butail, the president of the association, told The Telegraph over phone from Kangra.

Basu now plans to call up the tea board and the Consultative Committee of Plantation Associations, an apex body of planters, to take the initiative for the north Bengal convention.

“Such an event will help a lot in promoting our tea overseas,” said Anand Agarwal, the president of the North Bengal Tea Producers’ Association.

Source: The Telegraph

Indian tea to Russia

Siliguri : The first-ever official trade delegation from north Bengal is set to leave for a seven-day trip to Russia tomorrow with the hope of rekindling some of the lost business it had with the country, especially in tea.

Under the aegis of the Confederation of Indian Industry’s North Bengal zonal office, a 12-member team comprising representatives from the tea, tourism and education sectors here will be meeting government, trade and business personalities from Moscow and Ufa, the headquarters of the Republic of Bashkortostan.

“We will be holding face-to-face discussions with representatives of organizations that have shown keen interest in doing business and trade with this region of India,” said Kamal Mittal, chairman of CII’s North Bengal Zonal Council and leader of the delegation speaking from Bangkok. He will be joining the rest of the team in Delhi tomorrow.

With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh currently on a visit to Moscow, the CII tour too is expecting sufficient attention.

The delegation will meet the director and members of the Bashkortostan Chambers of Commerce, the republic’s minister of external links, trade and entrepreneurship, and the business community as well as visit tea factories and distilleries.

“We shall be setting up a joint business center in Bashkortostan in conjunction with the mayor of Ufa,” Mittal said. The latter part of the tour will be with business representatives in Moscow.

“Our main agenda there will be tea. The Russians have expressed interest in joint ventures in this sector, including takeover of a few faltering gardens (in north Bengal), where 50 per cent of the investment will be done by them,” said Prabir Seal, spokesperson of the delegation and a CII zonal council member.

“They have also shown interest in importing tea from north Bengal. Several aspects of the likely deals have already been taken up through email, like the type of tea (CTC and Darjeeling), packaging, transportation and the joint collaborations. What we are taking with us are the samples and the prices, which we will tell them across the table,” Seal, also a tea trader, said.

The other members of the team comprise Sravan Choudhury, Rajkumar Dalmia, Ravi Agarwal, K.K. Tiwari, Vikas Bansal, Pawan Poddar (all tea), Prasenjit Saha (tea and liquor), Sujit Raha, K.K. Kedia (real estate and education) and Laxmi Limbu Kaushal, head of CII North Bengal.

“The export of tea to Russia dropped in the mid 1990s, before which 50 per cent of brew that went to that country was from India. In 2006, of the 181 million kg of tea exported, only 20 per cent went to Russia. The Indian government has set a $10 billion trade turnover target with Russia to be achieved by 2010,” Seal said.

Tea tourism, flori-culture, scope for bottling Russia’s favorite drink, Vodka, and several other areas will also be explored, Kaushal said.

Source: The Telegraph

Planter feedbacks screen on Monday meet

Siliguri : The committee formed for acquisition of closed tea gardens will meet at New Delhi on Monday to screen the feedback received from planters in Bengal.

Led by O.P. Arya, the additional secretary of the Union commerce and industry ministry, the committee was formed to acquire the gardens by invoking Section 16(E) of the Tea Act, 1953.

“Of the 13 closed gardens in West Bengal, we had served showcase notices to 11. The state will take care of Kanthalguri and Ramjhora, the leases of which have been canceled,” said G. Boriah, the director (tea development) of the Tea Board. “All the gardens have replied. The committee now plans to scrutinize the replies on Monday and to decide on their future plan of action.”

Though Boriah refused to divulge more, sources said most owners have quoted common problems like lack of funds and excess labor force leading to high cost of production that affected the plantations and factories.

Trade union leaders, who were eagerly waiting for the gardens to reopen, voiced their dissatisfaction. “Ministers and officials have made several commitments over past one year but nothing has improved for the workers,” said Chitta Dey, the convener of the Coordination Committee of Tea Plantation Workers.

Source: The Telegraph