Award to promote tea growers
Guwahati, Jan. 13: The Tea Board has instituted an award scheme for the first time exclusively small tea growers, bought leaf tea factories and self-help groups of small tea growers in the region to ensure better quality in the sector.
A Tea Board official said the scheme aims at rewarding the best performing small tea growers on the basis of field productivity and quality of leaf harvested, best performing bought leaf tea factories on the quality of made tea, and self-help groups on various parameters of group dynamics.
The small tea growers have been facing a lot of criticism from many quarters regarding the quality of tea produced, forcing the Board to encourage the growers to produce quality tea and provide them with incentives to do so.
For the last three years, the government has put on hold the issue of fresh registration of bought leaf factories as a quality control measure but is now relaxing the norms for factories set up by small growers under the self-help groups or co-operative societies.
These awards are named the Purv-o-Uttar Ati-Uttam Chai Awards. The small tea growers will be given a cash reward of Rs 10, 000 and presented a memento and a citation. The best bought leaf factory will be honoured with a citation, a silver trophy and Rs 20,000. The best performing self-help groups shall be honoured with a citation, a silver trophy and Rs 20,000.
The application form should reach the nearest regional offices of the board or the zonal office in Guwahati on or before March 15.
A survey conducted by the Assam government has put the number of small tea growers at 68,465 in the 117 thousand-acre area, producing 500 million kg of leaf. They contribute 25-26 per cent of the total production in the Northeast and 14-16 per cent of the country’s total production.
Any grower having a tea plantation of upto 10.12 hectares is categorised as a small tea grower. “The idea is to recognise, reward and salute the small tea growers for their efforts, sweat and toil,” the official said.
There have been many good examples and the Board hopes to create many such role models for other small tea growers to emulate.
On the bought leaf tea sector, the board says the sector failed to derive the tangible prices because of its reputation created by the market forces as being producers of low quality tea, despite having installed modern machinery.There are 234 registered bought leaf tea factories in the Northeast, of which 213 are in Assam.
On the self-help groups, the board says there are shining examples like Seuj Jyoti self-help group of Nagaon district, which has entered into an agreement with Matiapahar tea garden in running the factory with quality leaf supplied by their members. There are 111 self-help groups in Assam.