By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, Nov 8: Having faced erratic weather conditions leading to losses in production in the past, small tea growers in the State have sought a crop insurance scheme.
"Tea is a crop completely dependent of weather and climatic conditions. Also, the price the growers obtain for their green leaf is dependent on the price of the finished product of the tea factories. The loss in production and income due to these conditions is beyond the control of growers," advisor of the North Eastern Tea Association Bidyanda Barkakoty said, adding that an insurance scheme will help cover production-related risks and price volatility.
Barkakoty also urged the government to "to give a serious thought" on whether tea should continue to be under the Commerce ministry or brought under the Agriculture ministry.
"Though traditiolly Indian tea was produced by the organized sector with a large corporate presence, during the last 35 years, there has been a huge growth in the small tea growers sector, so much so that presently one-third of the tea produced in India comes from small tea growers," he said, adding that tea is an agricultural crop and therefore it is subject to the limitations peculiar to agriculture.
At the 17th biennial meeting of the association held at Kohora recently, Barkakoty also reiterated the demand to declare tea as a 'tiol drink', citing the recommendation made by the parliamentary standing committee headed by MP Shanta Kumar.
Around 1 lakh small tea growers in the State account for 45 per cent of the total tea production in the State. Last year, the tea production in the State was 610.97 million kgs.