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Meet to boost north Bengal tea’s market

Siliguri, Dec. 12: All stakeholders of the tea industry will assemble here tomorrow for a two-day conference to discuss ways to improve the quality and increase the quantity of the brew produced in north Bengal and explore new markets for the commodity.

The third edition of Indian Tea Forum will be organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry in association with the Tea Board of India and the Federation of All India Tea Traders Associations.

Like pervious years, the event will see the largest congregation of people associated with the tea industry in north Bengal. A series of discussions and seminars have been lined up at the meet.

“The life and well-being of people in north Bengal largely hinge on tea cultivation. Given that more than four lakh people are directly engaged in the tea industry here, we have to improve the produce both in terms of quality and quantity and more crucially, find a wider market for the produce in India and abroad,” P.K. Shah, the chairman of CII’s north Bengal zonal council, said today.

“As the apex industry body, the CII will join hands with all stakeholders of the tea industry to explore ways to give a fillip to the sector, which is the fulcrum of north Bengal’s economy,” he added.

Representatives of the CII said the event would be attended by north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb, growers, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, garden executives, heads of tea associations and officials of the tea board.

The forum will be held at Club Montana Vista in Uttarayon, Siliguri. “We had launched the Indian Tea Forum in 2010. Within years, it has emerged as a platform to discuss ways to make the north Bengal tea a global brand,” said a CII official.

At the event, there will be panel discussions on topics like “tea tourism” and “what will bring prosperity and improve fame of NB tea — quantity, quality of innovative practices”.

Shah said the forum would also witness a buyer-seller meet and discussions on conservation of bio-diversity for sustainable livelihood and environment. “The forum is an avenue for a vast section of buyers from India and abroad to meet manufacturers, wholesalers, packagers, distributors and suppliers in north Bengal,” he said.

A CII source has said north Bengal has 369 tea gardens, 181 in the Dooars, 101 in the Terai and 87 in the Darjeeling hills.

The region has 108 bought-leaf factories, which purchase tea from 33,000-odd small growers.

The tea industry generates an annual turnover of Rs 3,000 crore in the region.

“In 2012, north Bengal produced 276 million kg of tea. The total production in the country for the year was 1,111 million kg,” said the source.