Jorhat, May 16: “A separate ministry for the tea industry is under process as small tea growers along with company-based tea industry make enough contribution to the economic growth of the State. Hence a separate ministry will help for the growth of the tea industry,” said Assam Legislative Assembly Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami. He was the chief guest in the grant-in-aid programme for small tea growers at the Pitambordev Goswami auditorium organized by the District Industrial Centre.
He further said, “Assam tea is well known all throughout the globe but in recent times it has faced stiff competition from some countries like Kenya, China and Sri Lanka. The price and popularity of Indian tea is going down which needs to be checked. A separate ministry for the tea industry is the need of the hour and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has already formed a six-member committee to monitor further development, growth and welfare of the industry as it is the backbone of the State’s economy.”
Goswami added, “A separate ministry will help in improving the quality of tea production and also check the downfall of tea gardens owned by big companies. It has been reported that Tata, Bhaskar Tea Company and Assam Company Ltd are trying to sell their tea gardens and these tea gardens are facing loss since several years. There is confusion between the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, for which the tea industry is not getting required importance as tea production falls under agriculture but tea marketing comes under the Ministry of Commerce. A separate ministry is needed to fill the loopholes.” During the aid distribution programme organized by the District Industrial Centre (DIC), 17 self-help groups were given financial assistance and vehicles for carrying green leaves to small tea growers who are registered under the Tea Board of India.