Guwahati, Oct. 22: The Tea Board of India has constituted a one-member committee to monitor proper utilisation of funds by small tea-growers in the state.
On the basis of the committee’s report, the board will take a final call on providing subsidy to tea-growers in order to set up tea production factories for themselves.
These factories, which would cost nearly Rs 40 lakh each, would be set up by self-help groups comprising small tea growers in specific areas.
The Board would grant 40 per cent subsidy to set up these factories.
The committee, comprising a former executive director of Tea Board of India, R. Horo, is visiting the Upper Assam districts now.
He would be meeting the tea growers in Sivasagar district tomorrow.
There are about 40 self- help groups of small tea growers among about 150 which get 100 per cent subsidy for construction of shed houses, buying weighing scales, plastic bags and 50 per cent subsidy to purchase vehicles.
Each self-help group comprises around 40 small tea-growers.
The committee will also look into the functioning of the self-help groups yet to receive the board’s subsidies, which would be released on the basis of the report filed by it.
The president of All Assam Small Tea Growers Association, C. Khankiar, said: “Setting up of factories has become a top priority for small tea growers. We are totally at the mercy of bought-leaf factories and big tea gardens, as they decide the price of the green leaf. It is time we had our own production factories.”
He said having their own factories would also help small tea growers produce quality tea.
With nearly 70,000 members, the association has become a force to reckon with in recent times.
The small tea growers contribute about 30 per cent of the total production of about 500 million kg of tea in the state annually.
Khanikar said self-help groups were a great help for the small tea growers since such a move gave them an opportunity to work in an organised manner.