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Jorhat, Oct. 17: The Indian Institute of Plantation Management (IIPM) Centre, Jorhat, will launch a capacity-building project for small tea growers in seven districts of Assam from next month.
IIPM Centre Jorhat is a branch of IIPM Bangalore, which is an autonomous organisation promoted by the Union ministry of commerce and industry and the Tea, Coffee, Spices and Rubber Boards of India.
The funding for the training will be done from 10 per cent of the corpus fund created by the state government in 2010 from green leaf cess (25 paise per kg) collected from the small tea growers.
This is according to the provision of Clause 7(II) of Cess Utilisation Policy 2010 of the Assam government.
IIPM Centre Jorhat in-charge Rangan Bhuyan told this correspondent that his office has recently received a letter from the director of tea (under commerce and industry department), R.P. Das, asking the institute to impart training on capacity building of the small tea growers.
Bhuyan said initially, seven districts of Assam would be covered under the training programme. They are Jorhat, Golaghat, Sivasagar, Dibrugarh, Nagaon, Udalguri and Sonitpur districts.
A module covering the important features of garden management and marketing of tea has been prepared, he added.
Bhuyan said the venues for the training sessions would be decided after consulting the district-level committees of the small tea growers.
Bhuyan said the module would focus on maintaining accounts, following proper ways in paper work, enhancing effectiveness of manpower employed by the small tea growers, marketing strategies to be adopted for getting better prices and profits.
The module has been prepared by consulting the small tea growersand necessary time will be devoted to any particular subject based on the need of district wise tea growers. “We will impart training to all small tea growersacross the state in 27 districts phase-wise,” Bhuyan said. With the increase of small tea growers in the state, there is immense need for training them for better trade practices, he added.
According to tea industry sources, the small tea growers contribute over 25 per cent of the total tea production in Assam. There are over 1 lakh tea growers in the state.
All Assam Tea Growers’ Association (AATGA) secretary Karuna Mahanta while welcoming the decision, told The Telegraph that the state government was implementing the promise it made three years ago.
The association also urged the government to start imparting technical training to the small tea growers through Assam Agricultural University and Tocklai Experimental Centre under Tea Research Association as it had promised earlier.
Mahanta also demanded the government declare the total amount of money collected as cess on green leaf from the small tea growers since 2009.
The secretary said the government which talks of transparency in its functioning, should declare the exact amount of money collected from the small growers and deposited in the corpus fund set up in 2010 from the cess.
He said the government had not been issuing receipts against cess collected, which raises questions of misuse of the collected sum.