Brands before mini factories

Siliguri, April 25: Self-help groups of small growers plan to merchandise made-tea from bought-leaf factories (BLFs) in a bid to promote their own brand of the produce.

“Considering the Tea Board’s decision to set up small-scale cooperative-based BLFs, some SHGs of small tea growers are thinking of merchandising tea under their own brand names,” said Bijoygopal Chakraborty, the vice-president of the United Forum of Small Tea Growers’ Associations. “The exercise is aimed to create a market for the brands before the mini factories come up.”

The idea was mooted at a workshop organised by Tradecraft, an UK-based NGO in Jalpaiguri, last month.

In north Bengal, there are around 15,000-odd small growers. They have formed 41 SHGs, including 15 in Jalpaiguri. Across the country, there are 156 such groups.

BLF owners have welcomed the idea. “Given the present market of CTC tea, we appreciate any initiative taken to sell tea. The more tea is sold, the more the industry earns and recuperates from the slump,” said Prabir Seal, president of the North Bengal Tea Producers’ Association.