GUWAHATI, May 28: The Tea Board of India seems to have gone innovative and visionary. It has decided to launch a special package with an aim to encouraging small tea growers to go in for cultivation in the non-traditional areas of some northeastern States.
The package will be applicable for Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura (non-traditional areas), Sikkim, and North Cachar Hills and Karbi Anglong districts of Assam.
Sources in the Tea Board told The Sentinel that the non-traditional tea cultivation areas of the Northeast have a high potential for growing and manufacturing tea eminently suitable to consumers’ taste. The proposed package will focus on growing orthodox, green and speciality tea over Crush, Tear, Curl (CTC) tea. Small growers are now getting good prices for orthodox, green and speciality tea which has a greater demand than CTC tea.
The proposed special package will assist small tea growers to raise tea nursery by self-help groups, new planting by farmer-producer organizations, setting up of mini-tea processing factories, and training and study tour for self-help groups.
In order to raise tea nursery by self-help groups or new planting by farmers, the Tea Board has emphasized formation of 30-member groups (the minimum stipulation is 10 members) envisaged bringing about better synergy.
The Centre recently approved the modalities and guidelines of the Tea Development and Promotion Scheme to be implemented from 2017 to 2020 at a total outlay of Rs 394.85 crore. A financial assistance of Rs 7 per plant and 25 per cent of the sanctioned amount will be released upfront to enable self-help groups to commence work.
According to an official report of the Tea Board of India, efforts made during the previous plan periods have yielded positive results in creating awareness among small farmers in the non-traditional NE States on the advantages of growing tea. The report said apart from creating a perennial asset for generating regular income for farmers, tea cultivation in non-traditional areas also plays a significant role in weaning away the farmers from shifting (jhum) cultivation and preserving the environment.
Nearly 2.5 lakh small tea growers are cultivating tea in the country and contribute 46 per cent of its tea production.