The Assam Tea Growers’ Association today lambasted the State Government and the Tea Board of India (TBI) for allegedly turning a blind eye to the issues concerning the small tea growers (STGs) in the State.
The Association alleged that the lackadaisical and indifferent attitude of the government has compelled the small tea growers to sell their produce to the bought leaf factories during heydays at much lesser price than the actual cost of production.
“Although the cost of production of bought leaves is around Rs 15 per kg during the peak production time, we are indirectly compelled to sell them at prices ranging between Rs 12 and Rs 14 on most occasions. We feel that the government as well as the TBI are playing into the hands of the multinational companies at the cost of the future of the small tea growers,” said Rohit Borgohain of the Association while talking to mediapersons today.
The TBI, according to the Association, has also not been able to ensure that the minimum benchmark price is paid to the small tea growers, thus increasing their ordeal.
The Association also rued that despite the State government’s assurance to lift the cess from small tea growers, no notification to that effect has been issued till date.
Members of the Association informed that the design to weed out small tea growers would throw the lives of nearly 12 lakh people, who are directly and indirectly involved in the plantation, to the jaws of uncertainty.
“Neither the Centre, nor the State is paying any attention to the problems of the small tea growers, which contributes 48 per cent of the total tea production in the State,” said Borgohain.
The Association also demanded that the corpus fund be used for setting up of a bought leaf factory for the small tea growers in the State.