'Tea Board should not link replanting with other sops'

The United Planters Association of Southern India (Upasi) has pointed out that growing and manufacturing of tea are different and sometimes independent operations, and the progress in one should not be taken as a yardstick to promote and subsidise the other.

To promote replanting of aged tea bushes, the Tea Board has proposed that all ongoing development schemes of the Board should be linked with the Special Purpose Tea Fund (STPF) and priority would be given to gardens/estates that had undertaken replanting activities.

STPF scheme

The STPF scheme is mainly targeted at the field activity of replanting where a subsidy of 25 per cent of the cost is borne by the Government, 50 per cent could be bank loan and the remaining 25 per cent alone needs to be borne by the field owner upfront.

The progress in the STPF would be the yardstick on which eligibility for other schemes such as quality upgradation and product diversification are measured. Progress in replanting should not be used as a criterion for extending subsidies under the Quality Upgradation and Product Diversification scheme, sources in the Upasi said.

They pointed that productivity does not depend on the age of the bush alone but extends to type of clone and the manner in which the bush has been sustained and reared. There are large tracts of aged bushes of 50 years and above that are still yield better output than bushes of 25 years where replanting could be an agriculturally feasible operation but not a commercially viable operation.


The association has taken up this matter with the Tea Board and also the Union Ministry of Commerce, highlighting the specific problems that the South Indian plantations are facing. Although several tea estates undertake growing and manufacturing activities in an integrated manner, it should not be construed as a reason for denying subsidies because they fall short of replanting targets.

Moreover, the objective for replanting subsidy is to improve the yield and quality of the green leaf while the subsidy for upgradation of manufacturing facilities is to improve the quality of tea produced. Together, this would make Indian tea competitive in global markets. Therefore, it said that upgradation of manufacturing facilities is as much needed, if not more, as replanting of tea bushes to achieve the stated objectives.

But Upasi sources pointed out that they were not against the replanting scheme per se but were averse to linking one scheme as a condition for the other.

In fact, the Upasi Tea Research Foundation had carried out a survey on South Indian plantations which identified that 14,650 hectares or 13 per cent of the total area was in need of replanting. The association had suggested that replanting be carried out in a 20-year period, covering approximately 0.65 per cent of the total area a year.

Source: Business Line