GUWAHATI, March 2 - Demanding that the benefits of the agricultural and rural development schemes of the Union government be extended to the tea industry as well, the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), North East Advisory Council chairman Ranjit Barthakur said that the tea industry must be given the benefits targeted at rural areas.
In a post-Budget discussion session on Tuesday, Barthakur said that the scheme for organic value chain development in the North East will benefit farmers and entrepreneurs from the region can take the advantage to invest in the value addition of organic crops. He hoped that the tea industry would also be included within the ambit of the scheme.
The tea industry has been challenged due to various issues of international prices and escalating costs. Primarily an agriculture-based rural industry, this sector employs nearly 17 per cent of the State�s workforce. Thus, it must be entitled to get all the benefits pertaining to agriculture, irrigation and rural schemes including housing, he said.
It needs mention here that the tea sector is classified as an industry and comes under the ambit of the Commerce and Industry Ministries, thereby losing all the benefits of the social and developmental needs in the tea estates.
Referring to the schemes like the Deendayal Upadhayay Scheme, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojna, electrification of the villages, Digital Saksharta Abhiyan and also the schemes related to irrigation crop insurance, soil health schemes, organic farming etc., he stated that given the need to remain profitable, the industry finds it difficult to meet all the developmental needs. Hence the government�s intervention is largely needed.
�Infrastructure requirement of the region must figure prominently in the increased infrastructure expenditure by the government. We particularly hope that the issue of development of Inland Waterways, North East Ring Road and connectivity with neighbouring countries would be addressed,� he added.
Speaking in the discussion, Dr KH Palin, co-chairman of the North East Advisory Council of FICCI said that this year the Budget has been a mixed bag.
�We are happy that the Finance Minister has focused on important growth drivers like agriculture, rural development, infrastructure and housing. This would yield dividends and we foresee a multiplier effect in the form of demand generation and employment creation over time,� he added.