GUWAHATI, Aug 2 - The tea industry is worried that the slow pace of selling and below the cost of production prices would force it to incur further losses this year.
This year, the tea market scenario is awfully different from the past few years. Tea is selling at a very slow pace and at times producers are forced to sell their produces at prices lower than the cost of production. The tea industry is seriously worried over the fallout of this situation and has, therefore, sought the Tea Board of India�s (TBI�s) intervention to save the situation.
This has come to light with the North Eastern Tea Association (NETA) pleading in writing before the TBI Deputy Chairman Arun Kumar Ray here today seeking the Board�s intervention to save the industry from a slump.
In the communication to the TBI Deputy Chairman, the NETA said that two giant buyers are buying tea at low prices. Moreover, all major tea packeteers have either lowered the maximum retail price (MRP) of their packets or have introduced new variants with lower MRP. This is very worrying for the tea industry�s survival, it said.
The communication, signed by NETA chairman Nepul Saikia, stated that tea imported from outside the country are re-exported by some unscrupulous circles without adhering to the Plant Protection Code (PPC) and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) norms. There is also the apprehension that the Union government may lower the import duty of tea.
Therefore, it requested the TBI to examine the re-export of imported tea in the name of Indian tea and persuade the Union government not to bring down the import duty on tea.
It said that promotion of the tea produced by the indigenous producers in the domestic market of the country should be of top priority for the TBI so that per capita consumption of indigenously produced tea goes up in the country. Moreover, the Board�s developmental schemes for tea should be continued in the next plan period, too.
It also urged the Board not to force the industry to declare two percent of its produce as tea waste. Tea waste should be declared basing on the actual waste amount, it argued.
Hailing the Board for its decision to allow export of tea waste, it said that the guidelines in this connection should be issued at an early date. For, it said, export of tea waste has the potential to emerge as a game changer for the tea industry. Tea waste can be used by many other industries, including cosmetic industry.
It also sought enforcement of FSSAI norms of testing tea once in six months and those who abide by this norm should not be asked to go for additional testing.
On the deteriorating plucking standards due to rampant use of sickles, it said that just pressurising the manufacturers to accept good quality green tea leaf is not sufficient. Manufacturers are not shying away from their responsibilities, but all concerned in the business, including the growers and the TBI, will have to work hand-in-hand to improve the plucking standards, it argued.
It also requested the Tea Board Deputy Chairman not to make public the filled-up e-forms of the tea industry in toto, as, it is feared that the buyers may misuse the information provided in them to further bring down tea prices.
It also urged the TBI Deputy Chairman to get the quality of the packet tea checked at regular intervals. This exercise should cover coloured tea, which has already become a menace, it said.