NEW DELHI, Oct 11 � Ahead of her ensuing visit to Assam, Union Minister of State for Skill Development, Entrepreneurship, Sports and Youth Affairs, Sarbananda Sonowal has suggested Union Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to declare tea as the national drink of the country.
In a letter to the Minister, Sonowal has drafted a nine-point charter of demands, urging her to discuss the issues with all the stakeholders in Assam during her visit scheduled on October 13.
Sonowal has suggested that at least posts like those of Chairman of the Tea Board, Executive Director in zonal office of the Tea Board in Jorhat and Director in the office established for development of small tea growers at Dibrugarh should be held by people from Assam.
The Tocklai Tea Research Centre at Jorhat may be transferred and brought under the purview of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), he suggested.
The Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports said that tea produced in Assam is mixed, thereby downgrading the quality of Assam tea. Therefore tea produced in Assam should have geographical indication, he suggested.
Certification of organic tea should be conducted by the Assam Agricultural University in Assam, instead of some private organisations, Sonowal added.
At least two more tea auction centres � at Jorhat and Dibrugarh in addition to the Guwahati centre � should be set up, he recommended.
Moreover, an optimal minimum support price should be determined for green tea leaf produced by the small tea growers and special financial package assistance to small tea growers should be announced, he further suggested.