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Boost for tea at conclave

Guwahati, Dec. 12: Dispur will use the Asean-India trade conclave, to be held at Sarusajai sports complex here on December 17, to promote Assam’s orthodox tea in Southeast Asian countries.

Ministers, trade representatives and ambassadors to India of all the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations — Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam — will attend the conclave.

India will be represented by Union commerce minister Anand Sharma, Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi and the industry and commerce ministers of all the northeastern states, among others.

Assam industry and commerce minister Pradyut Bordoloi said here today, “Crush, tear and curl (CTC) tea of Assam is well-known since the state is the highest producer of CTC in the country. However, orthodox tea produced by Assam is not as popular as that produced in Darjeeling.” He said Assam would put up stalls at the conclave to promote its orthodox tea, which got Geographical Indication (GI) tag in 2008.

The production of orthodox tea is 15 per cent of the state’s tea production, which is 508 million kg.

“Special support by way of cash incentive is being provided to tea producers to increase orthodox and green tea production,” Tea Board of India chairman M.G.V.K Bhanu told The Telegraph.

The Tea Board of India has already proposed continuation of orthodox tea subsidy scheme in the Twelfth Plan to encourage producers to produce a larger quantity of orthodox tea. It has also proposed new rates of subsidies for the plan period.

“It has been noted from the two studies conducted by the tea board through separate agencies that producers are not getting adequate price advantage that can compensate for the additional costs involved in producing orthodox tea,” a tea board official said.

The conclave will coincide with the culmination of Asean-India Car Rally 2012 in the city.

The rally, jointly organised by the ministry of external affairs and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), began on November 26 at Yogyakarta in Indonesia with a flag-off at Singapore.

It will traverse 8,000km across nine countries over 22 days with 124 participants from 11 countries in 33 cars before reaching Guwahati on Sunday evening.

Bordoloi said the flag-down ceremony of the car rally would be held at Sarusajai sports complex on Monday.

“Since the first India-Asean car rally in 2004, bilateral trade relations between the India and the Asean nations have jumped from $21 billion to $57 billion in 2010-11. The Northeast is geographically positioned in such a way that better relations between the two sides will bring major benefits for us,” Bordoloi said.