GUWAHATI: The State Government has started the process to amend the Cess Utilization Policy, 2017 further to spend the Rs 180-crore tea cess deposited in the account for the development of small tea growers.
Industry Minister Bimal Borah informed the small tea growers of this at a meeting between small tea growers' associations and the Industries department.
The All Assam Small Tea Growers' Association, All Small Tea Farmers' Council and the Bodoland Small Tea Growers' Associations told the Industries Minister at the meeting that they needed to use advanced machinery and set up factories and irrigation facilities.
The minister said, "We have Rs 180-crore tea cess at our disposal. We will spend this amount on the development of small tea growers. We have already started the process for another amendment of the Cess Utilization Policy, 2017."
Recently, the Board of India also focused on the small tea industry and launched a scheme to promote small tea. The Asian Development Bank's latest report also told the Assam Government to lay a thrust on small tea growers.
Assam has around 1.30 lakh small tea growers producing around 50 per cent of the total tea production in the state. Despite such a contribution, this sector has not gotten the support it deserves from the government.
An association source said, "We want to cultivate organic tea. However, that is costly. We need incentives from the government for that. We have no way out but to sell our green leaves at throwaway prices to bought leaf factories. Let the government help us set up factories and packaging factories. That will help us take our share of the market."
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