GUWAHATI/TEZPUR, April 28 � The Tea Board has earmarked Rs 300 crore under Plan head for development of the small tea growers, said Tea Board Chairman MGVK Bhanu while addressing a convention-cum-workshop meant for the small tea growers organised by the Board at the Tezpur University auditorium at Tezpur today. He also pointed out that the Board would provide 40 per cent subsidy to the small tea growers for setting up factories, besides subsidy to purchase vehicles for transportation of their produce.
According to an official press release here, Bhanu said that the Tea Board has accorded priority to the growth of the small tea growers as they have contributed significantly to the development of the tea industry as a whole. �Of the 1,000 million kg produced in the country annually, 25 per cent is produced by the small tea growers and that is quite significant. In Kenya, small tea growers account for 70 per cent, while in Sri Lanka it is 10 per cent. The new gardens emerging in India is due to the small tea growers,� he said.
He said the initiative of the Tea Board to issue smart cards to small tea growers starting with Sonitpur district would help in finding out the exact number of small tea growers in Assam. �The smart card holders would be able to derive a number of benefits,� he added.
The Tea Board Chairman said the entire process of registration of small tea growers across the State would take six to seven months. He said the Board would conduct a study in five districts of Assam and two in West Bengal as how to link up the small tea growers with the big tea factories in an organised and systematic way.
Bhanu said that deterrent action would be taken against those tea gardens that do not display the actual price of auctioned tea as per the Tea Marketing Control Order. He announced that the office of the small tea growers would come up in Dibrugarh in September this year.
Addressing the function Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi laid stress on the small tea growers maintaining quality of their produce for better remunerative price and to face stiff competition from the big tea industries. He said that the Government would constitute a committee to look into the gamut of issues concerning the small tea growers.
He also assured that the Government would do everything possible for solving the problems of small tea growers and would provide them land patta, transport subsidy and other incentives, skill development training to increase capacity building for their overall growth and development.
Speaking on the occasion, Union Minister for DoNER, Paban Singh Ghatowar also exhorted the small tea growers to maintain quality of their produce to get minimum remunerative price.
The Union Minister requested the State Government to regularise the land patta of the small tea growers to allay the apprehensions from their minds. Ghatowar while urging the Tea Board to set up a welfare fund for the labourers working in the small tea gardens, asked the owners of the small tea gardens to ensure minimum wages to the labourers.