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Tea Sector's Financial Assistance Soars by 82% Under Tea Development & Promotion Scheme

Financial assistance for the Tea sector experiences an 82% increase under the 'Tea Development & Promotion Scheme.

Shivam Dwivedi
Tea Sector's Financial Assistance Soars by 82% Under Tea Development & Promotion Scheme
Tea Sector's Financial Assistance Soars by 82% Under Tea Development & Promotion Scheme

The financial assistance provided under the ‘Tea Development & Promotion Scheme’ has seen a substantial surge aimed at boosting the tea industry. The allocation has been increased by a noteworthy 82%, soaring from Rs. 290.81 crores to Rs. 528.97 crores for the upcoming two financial years, spanning 2024-25 and 2025-26. Efforts to empower small tea growers through a series of incentives are underway. The strategy involves mobilizing them into Self-Help Groups (SHGs) and Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs).

As part of this initiative, the establishment of 800 SHGs and 330 FPOs is envisioned over the next two fiscal years. This marks a substantial increase from the previous plan of 40 SHGs and 8 FPOs. The enhanced assistance of Rs. 105.5 crores will facilitate the expansion of coverage from 1000 to over 30,000 small tea growers. The assistance is directed towards boosting productivity, improving quality, fostering value addition, and ultimately, augmenting price realization.

Infrastructure and Capacity Building

The assistance provided to small tea growers encompasses various aspects of infrastructure development and capacity building. Common facilities such as field mechanization equipment, leaf carriage vehicles, leaf sheds, pruning machines, mechanical harvesters, and storage godowns are being supported. Moreover, there is a provision for the establishment of new mini tea units by SHGs/FPOs/FPCs to produce Orthodox, Green, and Specialty teas, facilitating their progression along the value chain. Soil testing for individual small growers, mobilized through SHGs/FPOs, and capacity building initiatives, including Farm Field schools, aims to enhance extension services and upgrade the skills of small tea growers in good agricultural practices and tea garden management.

A significant increase in outlay has been earmarked for promoting Indian Tea both domestically and internationally. With a more than tenfold rise to Rs. 72.42 crores, extensive promotion campaigns for 'Indian Tea,' including Darjeeling and other Geographical Indication (GI) teas, are planned in international markets to boost exports. Concurrently, generic tea promotion campaigns in domestic markets aim to enhance consumer awareness and stimulate the consumption of safe and quality tea.

Encouraging Value Addition and Research

To facilitate the export of value-added tea from India, new sub-components have been introduced. These include encouraging the establishment of blending and packaging units with an outlay of Rs. 40 crores and investing in research on blends and value-added products in international markets to diversify exports.

A separate sub-component focusing on Quality Assurance has been incorporated into the scheme, with an outlay of Rs. 39.9 crores. This includes provisions for setting up/upgrading tea testing laboratories and conducting awareness campaigns to enhance consumer awareness regarding the quality of tea sold in domestic markets. Additionally, a new component for Technological Intervention in tea plantation has been introduced, covering activities such as Precision farming, Drone Surveillance, traceability, and blockchain technology, along with the digitization of the Tea Board.

Fresh financial support is allocated for uprooting old (>50 years) and unproductive tea bushes, with replantation efforts aimed at about 1000 hectares of land. This initiative is linked to an incremental increase in the production of higher quality tea, including orthodox tea, assessed through a transparent methodology.

Moreover, welfare programs by the Tea Board, supplementary to those under the Plantation Labour Act by estate management, continue, including health awareness camps for workers and educational stipends for their wards. Capacity building programs, encompassing technical workshops and training on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and field operations, persist under the purview of the Tea Board.

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