At the 15th biennial general meeting of the association at Golaghat today, chairman of the association Bidyananda Barkakoty stressed on the importance of having a national drink.
To substantiate this claim, he mentioned examples of Britain and China where tea is the national drink. He also mentioned that sugarcane juice is the national drink of Pakistan and whisky that of Scotland.
On the importance of Assam on the national tea map, he said the genesis of tea industry in the country virtually follows the genesis of Assam tea and the state is the birthplace of Indian tea.
G. Boriah, director of tea development, Tea Board of India, and other members from the planters’ community attended the meeting.
Assam contributes more than 51 per cent of India’s tea production and 13 per cent of the global tea production. The Assam tea industry employs nearly five lakh permanent workers and another five lakh seasonal workers while another 10 lakh persons are dependent on it for employment and services.
“In Assam, tea is not just a product or commodity; it is a culture steeped in history; and a history replete with highlights of development and contribution to economic growth and social progress,” he added.
In India, about 800 million-kg of tea is consumed annually and consumption is increasing annually at the rate of 3.3 per cent.
On the restrictions imposed on mushrooming growth of bought leaf factories by the state, he said the government should allow green leaf growers having sufficient quantity of green leaf to set up factories.
“Licence to set up factories for producing CTC teas should be issued to applicants having a minimum of 100 acres of plantation,” he said.
“If we want to bring back the lost glory of Assam tea, then small factories should be allowed to be set up within the vicinity of the plantation area. By setting up small factories in the vicinity of a plantation, long distance transportation of raw material as well as the multiple handling of green leaves can be avoided. But this should be restricted to people having their own plantations, ” he said.
The Tea Board has already conveyed to the tea auction organisers that the Centre would bear the running cost of the e-auction system till December and that costs would thereafter have to be borne by the industry.
“We feel that it is extremely important that the e-auction system is made more robust and that the problems currently being faced are fully resolved before the transfer takes place,” he added.