Agri Business

Subsidy may hurt tea planters: Tea Board

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on September 26, 2019 Published on September 26, 2019

The tea industry should stop looking for subsidy to give an impetus to planters, said Arun Kumar Ray, Deputy Chairman, Tea Board of India. He further opined that subsidy should be given only on incremental production to incentivise planters and to increase orthodox production, and not for CTC.

The Indian tea industry has been asking for incremental incentives to planters to move from CTC to orthodox.

Orthodox tea accounts for nearly 40 per cent of the total demand in the international market, with CTC accounting for another 40 per cent and the remaining 20 per cent demand is for green tea.

“Excess dependence on subsidies would impact quality and thereby returns,” he said while speaking at the 55th annual general meeting of Tea Research Association (TRA) here on Thursday.

The Tea Board is itself in for a restructuring by way of right-sizing manpower, closing some offices and merging certain functions . Manpower would be brought down to 250 from 312 and at least six offices will be closed . The department of law and computer would also be outsourced.

Financial sustainability

According to PK Bezboruah, Chairman, TRA, the association, which has been facing fund shortage for some years, is coming up with a detailed financial sustainability plan that would make it self-sufficient at the end of the next five years.

The plan includes establishment of seven verticals, namely: certifications and overseas collaborations; training, skill development, educational courses on tea, conferences, seminars and workshops; sale of bio-formulations, bio-products, botanicals, tea seeds, tea plants and made tea from experimental tea estates; testing at T-Labs Kolkata and Tocklai; tourism and hospitality; unlocking real estate value through housing projects and Tocklai Tea Awards.

“Through these verticals we are looking at a detailed plan to generate annual revenues of ₹15 crore in five years. But, continued assistance from the Commerce Ministry for this and the next medium term framework are essential to enable us to successfully implement the plan,” he said.

Traditionally, TRA has been funded partly by government and partly by tea companies. The allocation of funds by the Department of Commerce to the R&D budget of Tea Board has seen a cut, from an average of ₹25 crore annually to about ₹9 crore.

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Published on September 26, 2019
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