By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, July 15: Despite an increase in production of tea, small growers in Assam have little to cheer.
Tea production in Assam in the last fincial year was 652.95 million kgs, a jump of 7 percent over previous year.
Buoyed by rainy spells and ample sunshine, planters expect a good yield even this year.
However, small tea growers continue to face pricing woes as the prices that they are getting from the bought leaf factories (BLF) are allegedly below their costs of production. The district-level green leaf price monitoring committees headed by the district magistrates has also failed to regulate the prices, the growers said. Two weeks back, bought leaf factories were giving Rs 20-21 a kg to the small growers, but the prices have slumped to Rs 14-15 a kg as on date.
"No one can deny the contribution of the small tea growers to the State economy. Many unemployed youths are engaged in the business. But the prices they are getting for their produce is pathetic," said Manoj Singh, publicity secretary of Tingkhang regiol committee of Small Tea Growers Association.
"The growers today have to follow a lot of guidelines, including the plant protection code. The cost of production as such comes to around Rs 15 a kg, which means the prices the factories are giving are less than the cost of production," he said.
Sources said when the district monitoring committee receives complaints, it intervenes. "For a few days the factories give you higher prices. But the prices come down again after some days," said another grower.
"The previous government did little to address the issue. We hope the new government looks into it," Singh added.