More tea benefits to small tea growers

New Delhi: Small tea growers in the country may soon get benefits enjoyed by medium and large tea garden owners .

Sources told Business Line that the Government and the Tea Board have already put in place a slew of measures to help the small tea growers with less than 25 acres. These include, among others, subsidy and grant in aid for their various developmental activities such as new planting, replanting, rejuvenation, pruning and infilling the vacancies, creation of irrigation facility, and organising them into self-help groups (SHGs).

Sources said Rs 53.36 crore has been disbursed under the ongoing schemes which is inclusive of Rs 20.85 crore disbursed as price subsidy. Though the aggregate production from small growers accounts for only 20 per cent of the total production, the financial assistance extended by the Tea Board during the last three years (2004-05 to 2006-07) of the 10th Plan works out to 27 per cent of the total assistance given to the tea industry, estimated at Rs 198.60 crore.
Price sharing

Sources said that the implementation of a price sharing formula with effect from April 1, 2004 was primarily to ensure that the small tea growers get a fair share of the price .

While calculating the actual price for the green leaf, the outturn percentage is also taken into account. The outturn percentages applicable to Tamil Nadu is 23 per cent, Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal it is 26.40 per cent and for the rest of India it is 21.50 per cent.

Sources said that in some parts of the country particularly in North Bengal and South India, the bought leaf factories have not been adhering to the directives issued by the Board. All such factories in North Bengal have been identified and notices have been served on them with a warning that stern action would be taken if they fail to follow the directives.
CISTA launched

the Minister of State for Commerce, Mr Jairam Ramesh, said that he has launched the Confederation of Indian Small Tea Grower Association (CISTA) in Elappara in Kerala on December 15. Mr Ramesh said that he saw them as a great social force since they signify first-generation local entrepreneurship in the industry.

He said small growers accounted for 25 per cent of the country’s tea production with 39 per cent in Assam, 34 per cent in Tamil Nadu, 24 per cent in North Bengal and 10 per cent in Kerala. Mr Ramesh said the Department was engaged in ensuring how “we can give CISTA representation on the Tea Board”.

He said that he has written to State Chief Ministers about giving the small growers pattas or some sort of possession certificates so that they could avail of the schemes and loans . Only 10 per cent of them are registered with the Tea Board. He said the Board will fund a complete census of small tea growers which could be undertaken by the State Governments.

Source: Business Line