GUWAHATI: The Assam Government is preparing a comprehensive policy exclusively for the State's ailing tea industry, a senior government official said on Friday. This is for the first time the State government is going to introduce a policy exclusively for the tea sector.
"The State government is working for a comprehensive policy of financial granting incentive to the tea industry in the form of ATISIS (Assam Tea Industry Special Incentive Scheme)," Principal Secretary for Industries and Commerce Dr KK Diwedi said addressing the 48th biennial annual general meeting of Tea Association of India (TAI) in Kolkata.
Since the tea industry is a major economic driver, it is important that the government derives a policy entirely devoted and focused on the tea industry that would ensure growth with sustainability, Diwedi said. Diwedi said the State government has taken initiative for a restrictive rise in interim wages of workers and waiver of green leaf cess,"
"Out of the four schemes under ATISIS 2020, the 3 per cent interest subvention on working capital loan has been a substantial relief to the gardens, Diwedi said.
"I have been alive to the issues of each of the stakeholders and it should be my primary duty that the glory and unique position that the Guwahati Tea Auction Committee is not diluted," Diwedi also said.
Only about 16 per cent of Assam CTC teas are sold above Rs 300 (up to sale 44 in 2021), whereas around 48 per cent are sold between Rs 200 to Rs 299. It is imperative that more percentage of teas be sold above Rs 300 for the sustainability of the tea industry, Diwedi pointed out.
Keeping the above in mind and in an endeavour to boost the tea industry in Assam, the Assam government is setting up a tea Park at Chayygaon in Kamrup District which will have rail and port connectivity, cargo and warehouse amenities, processing facilities like blending, packaging, etc., and other utility services under one roof," he added. The state has registered a total of 1,01,085 small tea growers, he said.
Exports achieved by Assam Tea is around 140 million kg which is roughly 55 per cent of the country's total tea exports in 2019, Diwedi said. "The Assam government has been alive to the financial woes of the industry which has understandably arisen due to massive rise in the cost of productions out of which the labour wages comprise almost 50-60 per cent to the cost of production," he further said. Addressing the meeting, Tea Association of India (TAI) president Raj Bansal said the tea production in India has increased by 97.52 million kg during the January-September period as compared to 2020 and the projected production in calendar 2021 is expected to be around 1360 million kg as compared to 1257 million kg in 2020. Bansal said the last two years, have been unprecedented and a new template is emerging for the tea industry's operational methods with the onslaught of COVID-19. The projected export of India for 2021 is 200 million kg as compared to 209 million kg in 2020 and 252 million kg in 2019, he added.