Poor response to Tea Fund from South

L N Revathy | Updated on February 27, 2011

Tea Board Executive Director Mr R Ambalavanan today voiced concern about the poor performance of the Special Purpose Tea Fund (SPTF) scheme, especially by the tea gardens in the South.

He urged the corporates to come forward and submit their estimate to enable the Board share the right estimate with the Commerce Ministry.

It may be recalled that an amount of Rs 10 cr was allocated during the last plan period towards the SPTF scheme for replanting and rejuvenation of old tea bushes to improve production and productivity.

‘While the scheme has been accepted well and also utilised by many, the performance of the SPTF in South India is still poor. The estates would have to come forward with their estimates and avail the scheme and be benefited from it,’ he told Business Line.

He spoke on the sidelines of the fourth edition of the National Convention on South Indian Teas being held at The Residency here today.

Responding to a query, he said ‘at times planters contended that the productivity of the age-old bushes (50+ years) continued to remain good and they therefore did not see the need for replanting such bushes at that juncture. The scheme though, is aimed at improving productivity.’

Industry sources meanwhile said that the quality of South Indian teas had improved over the years and some of the teas were comparable to Darjeeling teas. ‘We have more speciality teas coming in now,’ the source said.

On labour shortage, the source said that for some years now, the gardens have been giving shelter to labourers who came forward from up country destinations such as Bihar and Rajasthan to tackle the situation. ‘The entire family move in. We not only provide shelter, but also establish schools in rural pockets to enable them educate their wards. It is becoming difficult,’ the source added.

To a question on the demand supply gap of labour in plantations, the source said ‘around 30 per cent.’

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Published on February 27, 2011

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