The Assam government will appoint a third party agency which will study the problems afflicting the tea industry.
On Wednesday, industries and commerce minister Chandra Mohan Patowary told reporters — after a meeting with representatives of the tea industry — the government was very concerned with the state of the tea industry and was keen to support it through various steps.
“The third party agency will find out why Assam tea is not able to compete in the international market. The agency could be a management institute or top agency. Quality and branding will be given top focus,” he said.
Representatives of the tea industry apprised Patowary of the various steps which are required to rejuvenate the industry like generic promotion, providing power subsidy, taking over the hospitals and minimum benchmark price for green leaf of small tea growers.
He said the industry had to move away from CTC-style tea and venture into teas like green and yellow tea. “We have to produce high-quality tea to get a foothold in the international market,” Patowary added.
The government will set up a sub-committee to look into various problems of the tea industry like Tripura.
On the upcoming tea park at Chaygaon in Kamrup district, he said the government would send a senior official to Dubai Tea Park to find out what steps were needed to be taken to do similar work in Assam.
Patowary said the government had waived cess on green leaf which will result in losing revenue of Rs 100 crore. He, however, turned down the demand of the tea industry to consider taking over the employers’ portion of contribution to provident fund for a period of at least three years.
He said there would be a budget provision for Tocklai to boost research, adding there had to be a coordinated effort from all to rejuvenate the tea industry.
Over 35 lakh tea garden people have benefited from the mobile medical unit service launched by Assam government.
Stating this at a meeting of the State Health Mission here on Wednesday, chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal said the government was focussing on providing better health services in tea gardens, sar areas and hill districts.
Charing the meeting, Sonowal discussed the status of various health schemes and different steps being taken by the health department. The meeting also approved various proposals taken by state health mission.
Sonowal’s ministerial colleagues Himanta Biswa Sarma, Ranjit Dutta, Siddhartha Bhattacharya, Rihan Daimary, Naba Kumar Doley and Pijush Hazarika along with chief secretary Alok Kumar and top officials of various departments were present in the meeting.