Agri Business

To overcome labour shortage problem, Tea Board promotes mechanisation

P S SUNDAR Coonoor | Updated on September 25, 2021

Board disbursing ₹20 crore fiscal help in South India annually

Tea Board has launched a massive field mechanisation subsidy scheme to overcome the problem of labour shortage and also to include small growers under the purview of the Board’s schemes to boost speciality tea production.

“Tea Board is disbursing ₹18-20 crore annually to various stakeholders in South India. Presently, tea estates in South India are facing severe labour shortage, especially for harvesting quality green leaf and for various cultural practices. As wages have gone up in the recent past, South Indian tea estates are experiencing a high cost of production. The labour shortage has resulted in the extended plucking rounds and adversely affecting the quality of tea manufacturing”, Tea Board’s Executive Director M Balaji said.

Mechanising the field operations is an answer to overcoming the problem of labour shortage but the predominance of small growers needs to be taken into account.

Small growers

“Tea small growers are primary stakeholders. Many small growers are producing speciality teas and enjoy good consumer preference. However, they are facing some glitches in marketing their products. Small growers contribute nearly 50 per cent of the total tea production in districts like the Nilgiris. To bring more small growers under the purview of the Tea Board’s schemes to boost up speciality tea production and marketing, Tea Board has introduced a special package for the provision of financial assistance to the small tea growers. To begin with, a pilot project has been started in the Nilgiris district under the Special Area Development Programme of Tamil Nadu government”, Balaji disclosed.

He said that Tamil Nadu government has sanctioned ₹1.21 crore for four schemes — Special Assistance for Pruning Machine and Mechanical harvesters (Battery operated); Special scheme for setting up Organic Tea and other Speciality Tea boutiques; Special scheme for Tea Promotion Start-Ups for Unemployed Small Tea Grower Youth and setting up of Mini Tea Factory by the self-help groups.

In the first phase, ₹30 lakh has been paid to 275 beneficiaries to procure 200 battery-operated harvesters and 75 pruning machines.

Likewise, subsidy to the tune of ₹40 lakh for four beneficiaries to set up organic tea and speciality tea boutiques, subsidy worth ₹20 lakh to two unemployed youth from small grower families to establish start-ups and subsidy totalling ₹20 lakh to two self-help groups to set up mini tea factory has been granted.

“These new projects would be extended to other regions in due course”, Balaji said.

Published on September 24, 2021

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