Reviving Assam’s Tea Industry - Eastern Mirror
Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Reviving Assam’s Tea Industry

By The Editorial Team Updated: Feb 28, 2024 11:09 pm

With the production and prices of tea declining fast, the tea industry in Assam is going through a period of crisis. Infact, tea production in Assam decreased by a whopping 13 million kg in 2023. Prices have been reduced by INR 3 per kg in Guwahati Tea Auction Centre (GYAC), while in Kolkata prices have gone down by INR 10 per kg. Renewed effort is urgently required to make the industry healthy once again as it plays an important role in strengthening the economy of several Northeastern states. According to insiders, the crisis has deepened during the past few years as no meaningful steps were initiated to resolve issues that plague the industry. For instance, the prices of tea have remained stagnant for quite some time. As a result, tea growers are incurring substantial financial loss, placing a heavy toll especially on small gardens and in turn production from these gardens have gone down drastically as revealed in a report prepared by the Tea Board of India. The study noted that while big growers produced 40.84 million kg of tea in November-December 2023, small growers have produced only 30.66 million kg of tea during the same period. These figures clearly indicate that tea cultivation is not as lucrative now as it was before. Moreover, global warming is posing a grave challenge to tea cultivation throughout the country. As tea is a moisture heavy crop, relatively long dry spells or excessive rains, are both equally harmful to tea production. So, adequate protection should be provided to tea growers in case of plantation damage due to natural calamities such as rain or drought to attract new investment in tea plantations.

It must be noted that to help tea growers, the Assam government has taken a number of steps such as cutting interest rate on working capital loans, subsidy on orthodox tea production, agriculture income holiday, etc. But a number of other steps which are crucial to infusing new life to the industry are yet to be initiated. Apart from concessions and tax cuts, a sincere effort should be made to enhance the per capita consumption of tea. According to the data released by the tea board of India, the per capita consumption of tea in India is as low as 840 gm. The tea board aims to make per capita domestic consumption at least one kg. But the move has not yet yielded desired results. Several initiatives could be undertaken, including a countrywide campaign to inform people about the heritage of tea and the benefits of drinking it. A vibrant domestic market could possibly be the key for the revival of the tea industry. A collaborative and comprehensive meeting with stakeholders from governing authorities and tea estate owners and workers together is necessary to formulate an all-encompassing strategy to revive the Assam tea industry.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Feb 28, 2024 11:09:59 pm
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