The Telegraph
Thursday , May 29 , 2014
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Tea traders’ plea to Modi

Guwahati, May 28: Tea traders of the country are looking forward to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who rose from a chaiwala background to assume the country’s highest post, to take care of their concerns.

“The last few months of his (Narendra Modi) campaign through Chai Pe Charcha made us proud and helped increase the popularity of tea. As he has now become the Prime Minister from a chaiwala background, we seek his help to take care of our issues,” vice-chairman of Federation of All India Tea Traders Association Dinesh Bihani told The Telegraph.

Established in 1988, the tea association, comprising 14 tea traders associations across the country, is the apex organisation for tea traders’ associations all over the country to provide a forum for discussing and deliberating on matters of common interest.

Bihani said the government should give more incentives to exporters, and this will help in brand building of our country in tea.

The country exported 218.12 million kg of tea (provisional figures for 2013-14) as compared to 216.23 million kg in 2012-13. Exports in 2013-14 had fetched Rs 4,391.64 crore as compared to Rs 4,005.93 crore. Sources said the Tea Board of India had proposed a brand support scheme in the Twelfth Five Year Plan to help Indian exporters in their overseas marketing of teas of Indian origin on a sustained basis.

For intensive publicity campaigns for launching Indian branded products or for promoting branded products, up to 25 per cent of the cost could be considered for reimbursement subject to a ceiling of Rs 50 lakh per annum, per market. For promoting value added tea products, tie-up with local distributors and major stores is permissible and level of assistance would be 50 per cent of display, according to the tea board.

India’s tea production in 2013-14 increased by about eight per cent to 1,224.48 million kg on account of higher output in Assam and Bengal. Tea production in 2012-13 was 1,135.07 million kg, according to Tea Board of India data. The country is the world’s second-largest producer and biggest consumer of tea.

The association has requested the Prime Minister to declare tea as a national drink of the country. Though this demand has been raised a number of times, but nothing has happened on it.

The tea board is looking into the all round development of the tea industry where traders’ representation is very less. “We feel at least a five-member representative from the traders’ body should be included in the tea board,” the association said in its representation.

As the auction system is one of the best platforms to sell tea through various auction centres, the association says 75 per cent of tea should be sold through tea auctions. At present, Guwahati Tea Auction Centre gets only 27.5 per cent of tea produced in Assam, which has become a serious concern.

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