Tea Sector in Assam & elsewhere: A wealth for the nation

Assam produces more than 50% of total tea in India and is famous for its rich, full-bodied cup among all other types of tea produced across the country. But India’s tea sector is currently not performing at its best and is certain to face heavy losses, if it keeps functioning with no changes. During the past few years, India slipped from holding the first position in the tea sector worldwide to fourth. Meanwhile, China, Kenya and Sri Lanka secured the first three positions. India requires better assistance from the Central Government in terms of branding, promotion and export of tea. Tea estates in Assam, Sikkim, etc. expect the same. But in contrary to that, the budget for the Tea Board has only decreased by more than 50% along with 0.4% fall in the Department of Promotion of Industries & Internal Trade. To everyone’s surprise, tea from Nepal is branded as Assam or Darjeeling tea and is sold in the international market. Therefore, the Central Government need to focus more on packaging and branding. In 2021, the finance minister announced a package of Rs. 1000 crore under Pradhan Mantri Cha Shramik Protsahan Yojana for the development of the tea estate and workers as a part of election campaign. But no initiative has been taken regarding the same. The promised amount could and still can help in providing better accessibility to sanitation and hygiene, education, maternal health care of female workers, etc. Currently, tea in Assam is grown by small producers, rather than by large industries and the former requires handholding to grow. The Ministry of Commerce (MoC) does not have such an extention mechanism, unlike the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) through Krishi Vigyan Kendras. If certain mechanism is not a possible intervention by the MoC, the responsibility can be passed on to the MoA. They can provide the sector with the necessary training, subsidies, incentives, quality planting material and pesticides. If done so, India can re-emerge as the top producer and exporter, in terms of both quality and quantity.

Published by mpgauravgogoi

Member of Parliament, Kaliabor Lok Sabha.

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