Agri Business

Barak Valley tea farmers seek level-playing field

| Updated on: Feb 21, 2011
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Mr Hemant Bangur, Senior Vice-President of Tea Association of India, (TAI) has appealed to the Assam Government and the Members of Parliament elected from the region to do the needful for an early end to the “step-motherly treatment to Barak Valley”.

Addressing the 40th annual general meting of the Barak Valley branch of TAI at Silchar recently, Mr Bangur said, “we seek nothing more than a level-playing field to enable us to compete with other tea growing regions and we are confident that with consistent support from the Government and administration we will be able to produce better quality teas and compete in the market”.

In 2010, as he pointed out, the tea estates in Barak Valley suffered a crop loss of about six per cent and price realisation was down by another six per cent where during the same period the tea estates in Brhamaputra Valley gained more than three per cent as compared to 2009. The Barak Valley produced around 50-55 million kg of teas annually, roughly 10 per cent of the total production in Assam.

Quality teas

Although quality-wise, the Barak Valley teas were almost at par with the South Indian teas of premium grades, no attempts had ever been made to promote these teas, either for exports or for domestic market, he observed.

Mr Bangur regretted that none of the recommendations of the S.N. Menon Committee, set up by the Union Government to grant special attention to the region with specific suggestions for creating a comprehensive package for infrastructure development, had been implemented yet.

Transportation

Emphasisng the need for including Barak Valley tea gardens within the ambit of Transport Subsidy Scheme under North-East Industrial and Investment Policy, he pointed out that the poor connectivity in the valley rendered the cost of transportation very high for both inbound and dispatch of made teas, thus rendering them uncompetitive.

Mr Bangur also appealed to the Assam Government for rationalisation of various taxes and levies slapped on the State's tea industry over the past few years such as hefty hikes in pollution and consent fees and land revenue rates. “The misuse of NREGA is also contributing to large-scale absenteeism in the plantations”, he added.

Published on February 22, 2011

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