Ranjan K Baruah
Many of us start our day with a refreshing cup of tea. From morning to evening, we drink tea on a regular basis. One can easily assume the vast scope of career options in the tea industry. India, being the world's largest producer, exporter and consumer of tea, there is a wide scope for careers in this field.
Careers do not end in just having a tea garden as there are many other aspects associated with tea. As a whole, we can say the job in connection with tea is tea management. There are other options like research and development, tea brokers, tea tasters, etc. Work in the Tea industry includes plant work, processing, auctioning, branding, marketing and research.
Assam, being one of the largest producers of tea, there are ample scopes for the youths of the Northeast to get engaged with tea management. Apart from Assam, the best tea growing areas are Darjeeling and Nilgiri hills.
For becoming a farmer or cultivator or tea planter, one does not need any specific qualification. It is easy to come to the tea sector but there are various courses which are useful for the entrepreneurs and others who want to get associated with tea management. With India being the leading producer of tea in the world, the scope for a career in this field is immense. Tea companies or tea gardens, Tea broking houses, tea associations and the Tea Board of India offer lucrative positions.
Last week, I had an opportunity to interact with different stakeholders of tea plantations. I got an opportunity to visit some tea gardens and also interact with people associated with them. I could see that there are opportunities for many people to be associated with tea gardens. From managers or senior managers to workers, there are many opportunities according to qualifications one has at their disposal.
Like managers and assistant managers, there are welfare officers who look into labour issues and other issues related to development of the garden. There are opportunities for doctors and other health professionals too. Students from social work background may also work in the garden for welfare activities as there are organizations like UNICEF, which has been supporting some projects in many tea gardens. There are CSR activities conducted regularly by the Indian Tea Association (ITA). The Assam branch of ITA is known as ABITA.
There are different institutes that offer special courses in connection with tea. Assam Agricultural University based in Jorhat has a specialized course in Tea Husbandry & Technology. The University has the unique distinction of offering specialized courses in Tea Husbandry and Technology – both in the B.Sc. (Agri.) degree programme (as one of the elective subjects) and in the M.Sc.(Agri.) degree programme – so as to provide professionally trained and technically qualified personnel to man the various positions in the tea industry and its related organizations.
The courses, being multi-disciplined and industry-oriented, cover three broad areas of study, viz.
- Tea Husbandry
- Tea process Engineering, and
- Economics and General administration (including Tea Trade and Legal Matters). Details can be obtained from aau.ac.in.
The Indian Institute of Plantation Management also offers professional certificate Programmes on Tea Tasting and Marketing (PCP-TTM). For details, information can be obtained from www.iipmb.edu.in.
Tea Board of India: The Tea Board of India looks after matters related to tea production and marketing. Tea is one of the industries, which by an Act of Parliament comes under the control of the Union Govt. The genesis of the Tea Board of India dates back to 1903 when the Indian Tea Cess Bill was passed. The Bill provided for levying a cess on tea exports - the proceeds of which were to be used for the promotion of Indian tea – both within and outside India.
The present Tea Board set up under section 4 of the Tea Act 1953 was constituted on 1st April 1954. It has succeeded the Central Tea Board and the Indian Tea Licensing Committee which functioned respectively under the Central Tea Board Act, 1949 and the Indian Tea Control Act, 1938 which were later repealed. The activities of the two previous bodies had been confined largely to the regulation of tea cultivation and export of tea as required by the International Tea Agreement then in force, and the promotion of tea Consumption. Further information may be obtained from http://www.teaboard.gov.in.
Tea Research Association: Tea research consolidated itself by establishing a research complex in the fringes of the river Tocklai at Jorhat in 1911, named as the Tocklai Experimental Station. The Jorehaut Tea Company Limited provided the site. The Governments of Assam and Bengal shared with the industry the expenditure for the establishment of Tocklai Experimental Station. Thus, since 1911, the research station, popularly known as Tocklai, has come a long way, growing from strength to strength. Today, it is the oldest and largest research station of its kind.
TRA has been linked to the Commerce Ministry and the Tea Board for receiving grants-in-aid from the Government. It functions under a Council of Management with members elected from the industry, nominees from the Ministry of Commerce, Tea Board, ITA and other sections of the industry. Tocklai carries out and promotes research on all aspects of tea cultivation and processing with the principal objective of improving overall productivity and quality of tea. It conducts various training and courses related to tea.
Students from the Northeast may take up a career in tea management as there are many scopes in connection with this career. Apart from qualifications or special degrees or diplomas, it is always important to have some skills for employability. There are opportunities for small tea growers and one may take it up as an entrepreneurial venture to start small tea gardens. Careers here are not only limited to production or making tea leaves but there are options for people who are experts in branding and marketing. As there are many different products, so some may get involved in marketing, branding or online trading. There is much opportunity in the field of research related to tea and students from Assam and the Northeast may choose to be in the field of research.
(Ranjan K Baruah is a social activist and career mentor who has conducted career awareness programs in different parts of Assam and Northeast India. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 8473943734 for any career-related queries.)