Small growers' contribution rise, Tea Board voices concern

Small growers' contribution rise, Tea Board voices concern

Contribution of small growers in the context of overall tea production has been growing to touch almost 50 per cent as per 2017 estimates, according to Indian Tea Association (ITA). 

The Tea Board feels the trend does not augur well and could cause "disruption" in the market. 

In 2017, total production during January-December period was 1,348.84 million kilograms, while the estimated contribution of the small growers was 631.69 million kg. Tea Board chairman P K Bezbaruah told that unless the demand goes up, this trend would destabilise the entire industry and cause disruption. 

He said that the production cost of the bought leaf factories (BLF) and the small growers was low when compared to the established composite gardens. 

On top of that, the BLFs were paying pittance to the small growers for purchasing green leaf, making them to sustain at subsistence levels, Bezbaruah said. The proportion of contribution of small growers has been the highest in south India, followed by West Bengal and Assam. 

Bezbaruah said that there was a need to pluck good quality green leaf also, which was hardly practiced by the small growers and some composite gardens at the moment. 

The small growers are plucking big-sized leaves and a bud to raise production, he said. This practice, according to him, is reducing the quality of tea. In such a situation, the Tea Board has been trying to sensitize the growers on plucking good quality tea leaves and also finding means to raise internal demand. 

He said demand has outgrown supply at present as a result of which prices are falling. 

The composite gardens should also pay better prices to the small growers for good quality tea, he said. DC JM 

By BOA Bureau