TEA NEWS: Small tea growers unite to set up factories – Bengal delaying no objection certificates while larger factories go defunct ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Jalpaiguri, Nov. 30: Small tea growers in north Bengal are making an effort to form self-help groups and later co-operative societies to set up their own bought-leaf factories to ensure higher price for their produce.
“The state government is delaying the issuing of no-objection certificates to thousands of small tea plantations in north Bengal. As a result, we are not getting government funds and assistance from the Tea Board. So, we have decided to form self-help groups,” said Bijoy Gopal Chakrabarty, the chairperson of the United Forum of Small Tea Growers Association.
There are about 28,000 small tea growers in north Bengal and they produce 225 million kg of tealeaves.
The Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Plantation Management (IIPM) and the Tea Board organised a workshop for the small growers here today. The workshop is part of an all-India project taken up by the two bodies to organise small tea farmers in India.
Chakrabarty said a self-help group formed by 256 small planters had already sent a proposal to the Tea Board for assistance to set up a factory. “It will cost about Rs 80 lakh to build the factory that has a capacity to produce 5 lakh kg of tea annually.”
Samaresh Mondal, the deputy director of the Tea Board in Jalpaiguri, said 47 self-help groups had already been formed in north Bengal.
“Tealeaves grown in small gardens are tender. So, the quality of tea is good. We are working towards forming the self-help groups and then co-operative societies which we think will help set up bought-leaf factories,” Mondal said.
An associate professor of IIPM, Ananda Dasgupta, said the average age of tea bushes in large gardens is 60 to 90 years and their yield is not good.
“We are following a Kenyan model where self-help groups build factories for small growers. As small growers in north Bengal sell tealeaves to garden factories and bought-leaf factories, they don’t get a good price,” said Dasgupta.