Guwahati, October 1: The Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Anupriya Patel made a two-day visit here on September 29 and 30 to take stock of the prevailing state of affairs in the tea industry by talking to all stakeholders of the industry besides making garden visits.
Minister had an interactive session organised by Tea Board India with support from the Indian Tea Association (ITA) on September 29 at Guwahati, wherein all the stakeholders of tea sector including small tea growers, producers’ associations, bought leaf manufacturers association, Tea Research Association and labour union participated.
On September 30, the Minister visited the tea plantation and a tea factory and interacted with the management and workers of Amchong Tea Estate in Kamrup (Metro) District.
This was followed by visit to the Guwahati Tea Auction Center where there was interaction with the representatives from tea brokers, buyers, auction organisers and warehouses. Interaction was also held with the Commodity boards like Tea Board India, Coffee Board, Rubber Board, Spices Board and with APEDA and with their entrepreneurs and exporters who showcased their products.
During the interactions various issues impacting the cost competiveness and the long-term viability and sustainability of the Assam Tea Industry in particular and other commodities from Assam like rubber, spices etc. were discussed towards fulfilling the production and export potential from the State and attaining the supply-demand equilibrium in the process.
The Minister shared a brief outline of the Government’s policies and programmes vis-a-vis the plantation sector oriented towards holistic development and growth of the Industry in the years to come.
The Government has approved the Tea Development & Promotion Scheme for the period 2021-22 to 2025-26 with an outlay of 967.78 crore focussing on small tea growers for collectivisation, organic farming and exports, which includes a sum of Rs. 98.08 Cr for sector- specific plan for exports from the NER. Rs 298.76 crore has been approved for clearing the pending subsidies of the Tea Board India.
A sum of Rs. 1000 Cr has been approved exclusively for the overall development of tea garden workers in Assam and West Bengal, particularly for women workers and their children in the areas of health, education and skill development.
Further, the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, in collaboration with the State Government will set up packaging and training facilities in Assam for agricultural and other commodities. A NABL accredited laboratory will be set up in Assam for the testing of spices and other products.
The Minister requested all stakeholders to come up with a self-sustainable model for holistic development and pledged Government support for such model for developing Assam as an export hub.