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Scheme succour for NE small tea growers

Special sops for cultivators in non-traditional areas

GUWAHATI: Small tea growers in the non-traditional areas of the Northeast now have reasons to cheer!

The Union ministry of commerce and industry has approved the modalities and guidelines of the “Tea Development and Promotion Scheme” for implementation during the Medium Term Framework (2017-18 to 2019-2020) that has a special package for small tea growers in the region.

The package is applicable for Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura (non-traditional areas), Sikkim, North Cachar Hills district (Dima Hasao) and Karbi Anglong district of Assam.

Under the Rs 394.85crore scheme, there are seven key components covering the broad areas of Tea Board’s operations such as plantation development including small growers, quality upgrade and product diversification, market promotion, research and development, welfare of tea garden workers, programme for tea regulation and establishment expenses.

According to the modalities of the scheme, the non-traditional tea areas of North East have a high potential of growing and manufacturing teas that are eminently suited to the consumers tastes.

“Efforts made during the previous plan periods have resulted in creating awareness among the small farmers in the non-traditional Northeast states as to the advantages of growing tea which besides creating a perennial asset for generating regular income for the farmers, also plays a significant role in weaning away the farmers from shifting (jhum) cultivation and preserving the environment,” it said.

The announcement was conveyed by Tea Board India to all tea producers associations and zonal and regional offices of the Board through a circular dated May 14, 2018.

The Centre had already conveyed approval for the modalities and guidelines of the scheme to be implemented with effect from December 29, 2017.

The activities eligible for financial assistance include raising tea nurseries by self-help groups (SHGs) and farmers’ producer organisations for new planting and setting up mini tea processing factories with preference to orthodox, green tea and specialty teas over CTC tea.

The rate of financial assistance will be 50 per cent of the total unit cost with ceiling limit of Rs 33lakh.

The modalities further stated that 25 per cent of the sanctioned amount will be released upfront for enabling the SHGs to commence work. “The release of the balance sanctioned amount will be done in phases based on the progress of work and on the recommendation of the concerned Tea Board officer who would be ex officio member of the SHG,” it said.

Normally, the subsidy is to be released in tranches of 25 per cent each for four tranches.

“The reimbursement of organic certification cost has also been enhanced under the scheme to Rs 1lakh from Rs 50, 000,” a Tea Board official said.

Tea Board’s thrust of late has been to promote organic farming in the non-traditional areas.

The scheme will go a long way to not only clear the air in regard to benefits for organic tea growers in the wake of the expiry of the 12th Plan but will motivate new planters in these areas to take up organic farming.




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