A massive reduction has occurred in the average price fixed by Tea Board for payment to the tea small growers. The Board has announced ₹13.67 a kg as the average price which bought leaf factories have to pay to the small growers while purchasing their green leaf this month.

Tea Board’s Executive Director Dr M Balaji IAS has said that this price was arrived at as per Section 30A of Tea Marketing Control Order (TMCO) based on the consolidated auction sale average of CTC teas from bought leaf factories during October.

He has instructed all bought leaf factories to adhere to this price while buying green leaf from farmers this month. He has asked all field officials of Tea Board to ensure that no bought leaf tea factory in their jurisdiction is paid less than this average price this month.

Massive decline

This price is the lowest of not only any month so far this calendar but the least since April 2020 when the price was at ₹12.19 a kg. It is as much as ₹10.25 less per kg compared to November last year – a massive decline of 42.85 per cent. Compared to last month, it is ₹1.07 less per kg or a fall of 7.26 per cent.

Considering that four kgs of green leaf are generally bought to manufacture one kg of made tea, small growers will now get as much as ₹40 less compared to this time last year for every kg of manufactured tea or ₹4 less compared to last month.

“The small growers are disappointed. In the last 17 years, TMCO was amended nine times and still, it does not ensure reasonable price sharing between factories and small growers. Fixing benchmark price for each planting district does not help growers,” Dr S Ramu, former Member Tea Board and founder President, Small Tea Growers’ Association of Southern India (STASI), told BusinessLine .

“We have appealed to the Central government to take steps to direct factories to pay a reasonable price to small tea growers and also fix a floor price at auction centres as recently done by Kenya. Because, although TMCO was promulgated to ensure a fair price sharing formula as done in Sri Lanka, in India, the ‘reasonable price’ factor has been overlooked,” added Ramu.

He said that a national conference on ‘Post-Pandemic Policy for Tea Development’ will be conducted in January 2022 to deal with this and other issues worrying the growers.