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Small tea growers seek better price

By Spl Correspondent

NEW DELHI, June 8 - The small tea growers (STGs) of Assam, along with other northeastern States, have called for better implementation of price sharing formula by the Tea Board of India and policy changes that would help them to move up the value chain.

At a day-long event organised by the Centre for Education and Communication (CEC), titled National Assembly for Sustainable Livelihoods for Small Tea Growers from Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Mizoram, besides West Bengal held on Tuesday, the STGs asserted their rights in the tea industry and pressed for better transparency in the Tea Board�s price-sharing formula.

The small tea growers demanded concrete supportive measures from the government to set up their own manufacturing units as many of these societies are formed by tribal communities and women from these regions.

Later, addressing the small tea growers, Tea Board Chairman Santhosh Kumar Sarangi announced that within a month, the Board, through the Ministry of Commerce, will come up with a notification on guidelines for setting up mini and micro factories for small tea growers. �The Tea Board will allocate more funds for small tea growers. More subsidies will be given for maintaining their water sheds and transportation,� he added.

According to him, the small tea growers will have to grow up the value chain, become producers and participate in auction on their own.

He further assured that the Tea Board will give them training in quality control and make sure the tea produced is of good quality. �Considering the global warming and erratic rains, more and more tea growers will have to be encouraged into organic farming,� he emphasized.

Sharing his happiness of being a part to the betterment of the small tea growers, Head of Cooperation, European Union, Johan Hesse said that �better trade and better bargaining process should be assured for the tea growers in India�. With the Tea Board�s cooperation and the stakeholders� support, he trusted a positive growth in the life of small tea growers.

�The small tea growers contribute 35 to 40 per cent of the tea produced in India and why do we still address them as STGs,� asked Dr Khan, who represented the NABARD, Mumbai. According to him, farmer must be at the centre and not one commodity.

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