Guwahati, July 9: The Tea Board of India has decided to institute awards to encourage small tea growers of the region to grow and manufacture good quality tea.
The awards will be instituted on the lines of those prevalent in South India to encourage small tea growers and manufacturers there to adopt innovative technologies and methods, a source said.
Members of the board agreed in its 219th meeting held at Kumarakom in Kerala recently that similar awards should be instituted for small tea growers in north India too.
Given the growing importance of the small tea sector, which accounts for 26 per cent of the all-India production, it has been proposed to implement a scheme at a proposed outlay of Rs 300 crore for addressing the development needs of small growers.
Chief minister Tarun Gogoi has been asking small tea growers to focus on quality to get a remunerative price and has assured them that all steps would be taken to address their problems.
The board is taking steps to provide value addition to teas produced by small growers to enhance their income and upgrade the quality of their produce, leading to overall improvement in Indian teas.
The parliamentary standing committee on commerce has welcomed the board’s move to come up with a full-fledged scheme to help small growers. It noted that while 89,484 small growers were registered with the board, the actual figure was much higher. It has directed the board to initiate a drive to get more small growers registered for greater benefits to the maximum number. It has also urged the board to ensure that the small tea-growers directorate becomes fully functional by September.
The board has now relaxed the criteria for getting growers registered to help them get benefits. Any grower having a plantation of upto 10.12 hectares is categorised as a small tea grower.
It has also accepted the proposal for extending a grant-in-aid of Rs 3 lakh per annum to Sikkim University for running a specialised course, post-graduate diploma in tea development and management, and proposes to help the development of tea industry by providing technical manpower.