GUWAHATI: The tea industry in Assam is on a decline and is a shadow of its former self. The decrease in crop, soaring production costs and the plummeting prices in the once lucrative export market are some of the primary reasons behind the downfall of this once flourishing business.
Addressing this grave concern, Nalin Khemani, Chairman of Bharatiya Chai Parishad has suggested that the ailing tea industry in Assam needs proper promotion, particularly overseas, so that it can tap new markets.
While speaking to the press ahead of the Union interim budget, he said that the commerce industry must ensure that our exports improve and our tea be promoted. There is an oversupply in our domestic market, and the export demand is tepid.
He went on to say that a new overseas market can be tapped if the government takes up with the Tea Board to introduce a tea promotion policy.
Moreover, the Bharatiya Chai Parishad has urged the Assam government, which is also set to present its budget for 2024-25 in the next month, to reduce the industry’s overall social cost burden, asserting that the industry is in stress.
According to Khemani, a self-sustainable model must be in place for any industry to be sustainable. Subsidies can’t help the industry. The industry will be benefitted if the government can take over its social cost burden.
“When the Assam tea industry came to being 200 years ago, the tea estate management used to set up infrastructure – schools and hospitals. Now the government is doing a commendable job, and they should now take over the garden hospitals, which will reduce our social cost burden,” Khemani added.
Furthermore, he said that this will pan out to be a win-win situation for both tea garden management and the workers as it will ensure workers have quality medical facilities.