Assam Govt Plans Major Outreach For 200 Years Of Tea Industry

Assam govt plans major outreach for 200 years of tea industry

By Sujit Chakraborty
Guwahati/Agartala, March 26 : Assam produces roughly 55 per cent of Indias tea.The state government, to mark the 200 years of the state’s tea industry, has proposed to organise numerous events including road shows in major cities across the country as well as abroad to promote Assam Tea as a brand and showcase the rich socio-cultural heritage of the tea garden communities.

 Assam Govt Plans Major Outreach For 200 Years Of Tea

The tea industry in Assam occupies an important place and it plays a very useful part in the national economy.

In 1823 one Robert Bruce discovered tea plants growing wild in the upper Brahmaputra Valley.

A tea garden was established in 1833 in erstwhile Lakhimpur district in eastern Assam.

According to experts, Assam tea has an international reputation and commands a significant share in the world tea market.

The total area under tea cultivation in Assam accounts for more than half of the country’s total area under tea.

The estimated annual average production of tea in Assam is about 630-700 million kg.

Freedom fighter and martyr Maniram Dutta Barua, commonly known as Maniram Dewan, also pioneered tea plantations in Assam.

Dewan along with Piyali (or Peali) Barua was hanged on February 26, 1858 at Jorhat Central Jail at the age of 51.

His execution by the British sparked off a rebellion against colonial rule.

Assam Finance Minister Ajanta Neog said that it has been proposed in the state budget (2023-24), presented in the assembly last week, that Assam Tea Industries Special Incentives Scheme (ATISIS), 2020 will be further strengthened to incentivise the production of orthodox tea and specialty tea.

She said that as promised, an increase in the production subsidy for orthodox and specialty tea from Rs 7 to Rs 10 per kg is already under process.

However, celebrating the 200 years of Assam tea, the budget announced that an enhanced production subsidy of Rs 12 per kg will be extended for 2023-24.

Rs 100 crore has been earmarked for this scheme.

The budget has also announced extension of a tax holiday on agricultural income tax for the next three years, development of infrastructure in the tea garden areas, special relief, waiver of all the electricity dues arrears of tea garden workers living in the lines, wage compensation scheme for pregnant women of tea garden areas and construction of 10,000 houses under the Mukhya Mantri Awas Yojana.

The minister said: “Our government will continue supporting Assam Tea Corporation Limited against the payment of outstanding liabilities of interest on provident fund in a phased manner, keeping in mind the greater interest of ATCL workers.”

The Assam government also decided to recognise tea garden workers and the Adivasi community in the tea garden areas as a separate sub-category within the Other Backward Community.

Around three per cent reservation in government jobs, within the OBC quota, will be considered for them subject to fulfilling the legal stipulations in this regard.

The tea industry bodies hailed the Assam government’s decisions on the occasion of the bicentenary of the state’s tea industry.

The Tea Association of India (TAI) Assam branch secretary Dipanjol Deka said: “The proposal to hold road shows and other events across India to promote Assam tea as part of the 200 years’ celebration of Assam tea, would be of huge benefit to the state tea industry.”

North Eastern Tea Association adviser Bidyananda Barkakoty said that they are delighted by the announcement of the celebration of 200 years of the Assam tea industry in a grand manner by the state government.

“The proposal to organise road shows in major cities across the country as well as abroad to promote Assam tea as a brand and showcase the rich socio-cultural heritage of the tea garden communities would go a long way in increasing the per capita consumption of tea, which is the need of the hour,” Barkakoty told IANS.

He said that the unlocking of five per cent of tea garden land for agriculture and allied activities would help to bring additional revenue and thereby contribute to the viability of the tea industry.

The extension of the tax holiday on agricultural income tax for the next three years would be of help to the tea industry, Barkakoty pointed out.

Assam, which produces roughly 55 per cent of India’s tea, has more than 10 lakh tea workers in the organised sector, working in about 850 big estates.Besides, there are lakhs of small tea gardens owned by individuals.

The tea belts of the Brahmaputra and Barak valleys are home to more than 60 lakh people.

After Assam, Tripura is the second largest producer of tea in the northeastern region, producing around 10 million kg of tea annually on an area of 6,885 hectares.

The agro-climatic conditions in Tripura are suitable for the development of tea plantations.

Official documents show that the soil is generally fertile, without any major problems of toxicity or deficiencies.

The average annual rainfall is about 210 cm with fairly even distribution over the year.

Tripura has a history of tea plantations dating back to 1916.

In fact, Tripura is categorised as a traditional tea-growing state with about 54 tea estates, 21 tea processing factories, and more than 2500 small tea growers, producing about 10 million kg of tea every year making Tripura the 5th largest, among the 16 tea producing states in India.

Experts said that there is considerable scope to increase the productivity and area under tea plantation.

(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at [email protected])


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