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Assam plan for widening reach of tea boutiques

Govt proposes to extend 50 per cent of capital investment with the upper limit fixed at Rs 20 lakh

Umanand Jaiswal Guwahati Published 24.10.22, 12:06 AM
An Assam tea garden

An Assam tea garden Twitter/@Nikuboruah1

Assam government’s draft tea policy has proposed financial assistance for opening tea boutiques within and outside the state, a step industry insiders have welcomed as rise in consumption would help ease the pressure on the industry from rising production cost and any fall in exports.

According to the draft policy, unveiled by the industries and commerce department on Wednesday before stakeholders for their feedback, the state government will be extending financial assistance for setting up tea boutiques in major tourist places of Assam and in major cities of India.


The government has proposed to extend 50 per cent of the capital investment in setting up a boutique in Assam with the upper limit fixed at Rs 20 lakh. Outside Assam, too, the government will provide 50 per cent capital with a ceiling of Rs 40 lakh.

The government has also proposed to help the industry participate in fairs and exhibitions within and outside India, another step aimed at promoting Assam tea. Towards this end, the government will provide free-of-cost stalls, airfare for a person and daily allowance of around Rs 2,000 per unit.

Assam’s contribution to India’s annual tea production of around 1,390 million kg is more than half — around 700 million kg.

However, India’s per capita consumption is around 700 grammes, much less than Turkey (3.2kg), Ireland (2.19kg) and the United Kingdom (1.9kg). India is the second largest producer of tea after China.

Hailing the government's move in helping set up tea boutiques and promotional activities, tea industry sources said a rise in consumption will take care of a lot of problems faced by the industry, especially the pressure from the rise in cost of production and the vagaries of the export business.

India annually exports about 190 million kg but there has been a fall in export by around 20 per cent in the past five years.

“The proposed move by the state government will help promote Assam tea and boost consumption. More consumption means good prices for Assam tea which in turn will only benefit the tea industry. Presently, 1100 million kgs is consumed in India. There is still a lot of untapped demand within India,” Dinesh Bihani, secretary, Guwahati Tea Auction Buyers’ Association, told The Telegraph.

Another veteran industry insider said the government should design the proposed tea boutiques or lounges like the “aesthetically-done and professionally-managed” Guwahati Tea Auction Centre (GTAC) Tea Lounge here.

The GTAC Tea Lounge, launched three years ago, is “not only a good place to have quality tea but also to buy quality tea”.

Another insider, welcoming the government proposal, said the government may design its promotional activities in such a way that makes tea “a trendy and cool beverage”, mainly targeting the youth.

“The government should come up with ads that can compete with better ads promoting coffee. It should be promoted as an all-weather drink, highlighting its health benefits. The promotional activities have to be sustained and trendy,” he said.

Industries minister Bimal Borah on Wednesday stressed Assam government’s “determination” to work on the improvement of tea estates wherein the social responsibilities are looked after by the government.

Besides opening tea boutiques, the draft policy also has components such as replacements of old plants and machinery, financial assistance for new blending and packaging industries, quality certification and export support for sending tea directly from Assam.

P.K. Bhattacharjee, secretary general, Tea Association of India, lauding the “exemplary initiative” of the state government also said the task before the industry was to increase the per capita consumption of tea.

He said since Assam contributes more than 50 per cent of country’s production, the responsibility to upscale the quantum of consumption therefore weighs heavily on the Assam tea industry and sought for a proactive policy towards this objective.

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