The Telegraph
Monday , January 23 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Amul model for tea brand

- Board mulls societies to help small growers

Guwahati, Jan. 22: The Tea Board of India has accepted a consultancy firm’s recommendation to build societies on the lines of Amul to help sell tea grown by small growers as brands.

A source said this was the recommendation of a consultancy firm, KPMG, which was engaged to evaluate tea schemes of the board for the ongoing 11th Plan period.

The evaluation was one of the pre-conditions stipulated by the Planning Commission for considering continuation of the ongoing schemes from one plan period to the next.

“We have accepted the recommendation of the firm and will soon work on this,” a Tea Board official said.

The report was placed at the 217th meeting of the Tea Board at Coonoor in the last week of December.

A Small Grower Development Directorate is being set up in Dibrugarh with an aim to build the growers’ capacity to better manage their operations, their businesses and the collective organisation.

The board has also taken the decision to shift the Tea Board office from Guwahati to Jorhat.

One of the tasks of the directorate would be to help in value addition to the teas produced by the small tea growers, as this would provide them with an opportunity to move up the value chain and gain from the same. This will not only ensure an increase in their income, but also significantly upgrade the quality of their produce, leading to improvement in the overall quality of Indian teas.

“The growers have little knowledge of business and this, consequently, leaves them open to exploitation. The lack of knowledge leaves them at the mercy of a market that is on one hand very discriminating (on quality) and on the other, very unfair (on trade terms),” the report said.

While a price-sharing formula is in place, it is not easy to enforce it in practice owing to low market transparency, which keeps green leaf prices not only very volatile but also very low in most regions.

The report said the directorate would facilitate in marketing of the teas through various means. It could be through using existing and new channels of marketing; auctions, direct sale, and eventually, as large scale branded and packaged tea, through state-wise and national marketing federations of small tea growers societies.

It added that it was imperative to change the mindset of the small tea growers from being self-perceived “victims” of an unfair market to someone who could not just meet but even influence the market.

The growers could also be trained by organisations such as Institute of Rural Management, Anand, National Dairy Development Board and IIMs to lend expertise to the marketing model.

There are 66,804 small tea gardens in Assam spread over an area of 89,924 hectares. Small tea gardens account for 28 per cent of the total area under tea and 26 per cent of the national production.

The directorate would facilitate in setting up of energy-efficient mini tea processing factories under the ownership and management of small tea grower producer societies. For doing this, the directorate would study of availability of green leaf produced by small tea growers, quality practices, and available options for mini tea processing factories and ascertain the value proposition for their teas to decide best market model.