Tea awaits farm status

Tea is likely to be considered an agricultural commodity soon.

The empowered group of ministers (EGoM) for plantation — which was formed in July this year — will take a call on the issue, an industry source said.

“The EGoM will come up with appropriate measures, including structural reforms in vulnerable areas such as tea, coffee, pepper, and plantations. Until we get the recommendations in hand, we won’t be able to comment anything on this,” Union commerce minister Anand Sharma said here on the sidelines of the annual general meeting of the Indian Tea Association (ITA) today. The EGoM is headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Under the Foreign Trade Policy unveiled in August, tea was brought under the Vishesh Krishi Upaj Yojana scheme to increase its competitiveness in the global market. Experts see the inclusion as a move towards giving tea the status of an agricultural commodity. Under the scheme, exports will be eligible for some duty relief.

Export hope

Indian exports are expected to do well compared with other countries, the commerce minister said.

“The steep fall in exports has been arrested. However, it will take a while to go back to the earlier levels of growth,” Sharma said.