SILCHAR, March 20: Government of India’s focused attention on north-east and beyond and its priority to turn ‘look east policy’ into ‘act east policy’ as well as integration of the region with ASEAN countries on its foundation. Such integration has been on the agenda of the seventh edition of Delhi dialogue, pointed out V S Rathod, Chairman of TAI, Surma Valley Branch, while addressing the 44th annual general meeting of Tea Association of India (TAI), Barak Valley Branch, on Thursday in the auditorium of Banga Bhawan here.
The Delhi dialogue, according to Rathod, assumes significance on two regions. The yearly process is a milestone in the history of ASEAN as it moves towards the ASEAN economic community. This is the culmition of decade old economic integration efforts to create a free market for goods, services, investment, capital and skilled labour. Moreover, it comes at a time, as he said, when our foreign policy has entered into an era of new vigour and dymism. Tea industry will be the ultimate benefit of this drive of the Government.
Notwithstanding the decline in Indian tea production as a whole, V S Rathod said Barak Valley posted an increase. 50.79 million kg was produced by 104 tea estates of the valley in 2015 compared to 49.46 million kg in 2014. There is a scope of increased production in this region. What has remained an area of concern is that global market has not shown any significant growth in conjunction as most of the prime export destitions has been experiencing in economic setbacks. This is possibly a reaction of rapid decline in depreciation of Russian Rouble against American Dollar as a fall out of global decline in oil and gas prices. Besides, most of the middle-eastern countries which import tea also experienced trading constraints.
While glut like condition impacted the price realization. Auction average of Cachar tea during 2014 was Rs.117 per kg compared to last year. Rathod however pointed out increase in the market price of tea is not commensurate with the rise in the cost of production. The rising costs of major inputs pose a real threat. It is true as he said Tea Board of India continues to serve a very important role in the development and stability of the industry. The Government itself is now taking initiative to monitor cultivation, research development and regulation of tea industry as well as tea trade.
In the meantime, revealed Rathod, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for implementation of the tea development and promotion scheme through Tea Board. Most important, Tea Board has now implemented plant protection code (PPC) for ensuring quality.
V S Rathod, Chairman of TAI, Surma Valley Branch, did not miss to list the various problems of Barak tea. Among them are the variation in weather conditions from severe drought to excessive rains. He has suggested the Tea Board and Tea Research Association for development of suitable clol variety for this region. Lack of adequate infrastructure has always been of concern. However, with the linking of this region with BG will remove this transportation bottleneck.