JORHAT, Aug 2 � Expressing serious concern over the falling prices of green leaves in Jorhat, Dibrugrah, Sivasagar and many other districts, the All Assam Small Tea Growers� Association (AASTGA) on Wednesday sought the intervention of Tea Board chairman MGVK Bhanu to ensure the implementation of a proper pricing policy of tea leaves in the State.
At a central executive meeting held at a tourist lodge here, representatives of the small tea growers� body alleged that the owners of big tea factories have been exercising monopoly in deciding the prices of green leaves, causing loss to them. �We demand intervention by the Tea Board chairman during this crisis. Several growers have been facing a tough time due to the monopoly of the big factories in the State,� said AASTGA general secretary Karuna Mahanta.
He also said while the price per kilogram of green leaves has been reduced to Rs 16 and Rs 12.50 by many big tea factories in Jorhat and Dibrugarh districts respectively, some other factories in Sivasagar district have fixed it at Rs 12. �But the factories in Dhemaji and Lakhimpur have been giving proper value to our growers at the same time. Factories must give minimum Rs 20 per kilogram of green leaves to growers as per a uniform pricing policy,� said Mahanta.
Along with him, AASTGA president Aswini Baruah, executive president Debeswar Gogoi and many other executive members expressed their concern over the issue. Several other members said that they are yet to be free from exploitation by the big tea factories which allegedly reduce the price by their own choice only to make profits.
However, in a meeting with the small tea growers on Tuesday, Upper Assam Commissioner SI Hussain said he had asked the Tea Board to supervise the adequate implementation of the price sharing formula under the Tea Marketing Control Order so that the price of green leaves does not fall in the State.
In a survey, it has come to light that small tea growers across the country now contribute approximately 27 to 28 per cent of the national tea production. It is also hoped that the percentage will go up to almost 35 in a few years.