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Call to fix green tea leaf price

By Ajit Patowary

GUWAHATI, Nov 3 - There is an urgent need to fix green tea leaf price together with fixing the minimum green leaf quality standard in both Assam and West Bengal. This was agreed upon by all the stakeholders of the tea industry.

The stakeholders include the tea estate owners, small tea growers, bought tea leaf manufacturers, Tea Board of India and the Government of Assam.

Agreement on this point among the stakeholders was noticed in two meetings held separately by the Assam Government and the Tea Board of India recently. At the Tea Board of India-convened meeting, the stakeholders univocally maintained that the minimum price for green tea leaf is to be fixed and made effective uniformly for both Assam and West Bengal.

The stakeholders who took part in the Tea Board-convened meeting on October 21 last were of the opinion that an independent committee comprising a group of experts or a reputed Government agency may be engaged to study in detail all the necessary aspects and finally fix the minimum green tea leaf price. The meeting was chaired by former Executive Director of the Tea Board, NE Zone.

The stakeholders who took part in the meeting convened by the Assam Government on October 20 were of the opinion that the Tea Board should explore the possibility of fixing minimum price of green tea leaves. This should be done by taking into consideration the fact that fixing of the minimum price of green leaves will help in increasing the price of tea to a reasonable level and also in maintaining the quality of green leaves, they observed.

The meeting was chaired by State Industries and Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary and Union Minister Rameswar Teli and Rajya Sabha MP Kamakhya Prasad Tasa, among others.

The stakeholders of the meeting were also of the opinion that the Tea Board of India should ensure that the small tea growers maintain the quality of green tea leaves supplied to the factories.

At the State Government-convened meeting, the stakeholders also decided to engage a national-level institute like the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) to study the challenges and constraints presently faced by the State�s tea industry. The meeting asked the Tea Board of India and the governments in the State and at the Centre as well to take steps to execute this decision.

The meeting also decided to ask the Union Government to direct its departments to extend the Union Government�s schemes concerning roads, healthcare, education, power supply, housing, drinking water supply, scholarships to the students, free ration supply, sanitation etc to the tea garden areas.

However, the meeting was of the view that the Consultative Committee of Plantations Associations (CCPA) is to publish a white paper on the corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities carried out by the tea companies operating in the State.

The stakeholders were of the opinion that a separate budget provision is to be made for the Tocklai Tea Research Institute from the next financial year of 2020-�21. The state�s Finance (Budget) Department is to look into the matter, they said.

At the same time, the stakeholders also agreed upon the point that the Tocklai Tea Research Institute and the Tea Board of India are to adopt all possible measures to carry out research on tea in order to ensure quality of tea leaves. The Tea Board of India is to make budgetary provision and allocate sufficient funds to the Tea Research Association to carry out research and development activities, they said.

They also asked the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre (GTAC) to take up the issue of its receiving only 25 per cent of the tea produced in Assam with the Tea Board of India.

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