Gogoi urges tea growers to start other industries


Kolkata : Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi Saturday urged tea growers in Assam to utilise the fallow land in and around tea gardens to build other industries like dairy and fishery.

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Speaking on the sidelines of the 125th annual general meeting of Indian Tea Association (ITA) here, Gogoi told tea growers: “You can play important role by diversifying into other industries. But it seems you people are not interested in other industries because you get easy money from tea.”

He added: “Infrastructure is there to diversify into other industries. Exemption from income tax and excise duty is also available under Northeast Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy, 2007.”

He asked tea growers to reduce dependency on one industry.

Indian tea industry employs directly over one million workers, women constituting 50 percent of the workforce. It generates income and livelihood, directly and indirectly, for more than 10 million people.

At present, total area under tea industry stands at 523,000 hectares. Tea production has increased to 980 million kilograms, so has the export to 200 million kilograms.

ITA chairman Basudeb Banerjee has also asked tea growers in Darjeeling to use the vast tract of fallow land within the tea gardens to plant trees or help in afforestation, which would provide carbon credit.

ITA has decided to allow fund for rejuvenation pruning in the hillocks of Barak valley in Assam under the special purpose tea fund.

Banerjee said: “Previously, we were not allowing funds for rejuvenation pruning in Barak valley. We were only providing funds for uprooting and replantation. After taking into consideration all aspects we have decided to go ahead and allow it for hillocks. They will benefit from this.”

Tea producing countries have decided to form an international tea producers’ forum under Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN to take forward common issues. This decision was taken in the inter-governmental meet held in May this year in China, he added.

“This forum will keep a watch on the quality and quantity of tea production, coordinate with each other on scientific research of tea, marketing efforts and put up a united front in most international matters,” Banerjee said.

The central government has provided Rs.8 billion in the 11th plan for the tea industry, which was Rs.3.5 billion in the previous plan period.