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The Additional Secretary, Commerce, A.K. Mangotra, chairing a session on Commodity Outlook at UPASI in Coonoor on Monday.
Udhagamandalam: The need for introduction of an institutional framework for advisory and extension services to small tea growers was emphasised by the Deputy Chairperson, Tea Board, Roshni Sen, while making a presentation on tea at a session on ‘Commodity Outlook' organised as part of the 117th annual conference of the United Planters Association of Southern India (UPASI) at Coonoor on Monday.
The output of the small sector had gone up from 97 million kg to 257 million kg over the last 10 years, she said and added that the number of holdings had significantly gone up. It was estimated that there were about 1.57 lakh holdings covering about 1.60 lakh hectares.
A small growers' census was now underway at Assam, West Bengal and Tripura.
Pointing out that the share of the small sector at the all-India level had gone up from 11 per cent to 26 per cent, she said that there was good scope for increasing the production.
The tag ‘low-cost low-value' attached to the small-scale sector should be transformed to ‘low-cost high- value' to compete with the low cost economies. While Kenya, China and Vietnam had increased their exports, the export growth was negative in India. The emergence of Vietnam as an aggressive exporter should be taken note of.
Stating that the production of the organised sector during the period had declined by 53 million kg, she added that it was a cause for concern. There was a need for higher productivity in the corporate sector.
She urged the planters to make use of the Special Purpose Tea Fund (SPTF) to expand area under tea without affecting the ecology of the place concerned.
Efforts should be made to cover the entrenched and high-value export markets and the anticipated increase in domestic consumption.
The myth that only green tea was good for health should be exploded since black tea was equally good.
The Additional Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, A.K. Mangotra, who chaired the session, observed that there were a lot of problems in the plantation sector which need to be addressed jointly by the government and the industry.
He added that some progress had been made vis a vis the demand for a separate directorate for the small sector. The e-auction system should be made completely open.
Exhorting the planters to become part of the ‘Made in India' shows which were being organised in different parts of the world, he said that tea branding should be encouraged.
Presentations were also made by the Director-Development, Spices Board, H.S. Srinivasa, Economist, Rubber Board, Toms Joseph and the Joint Director (Research), Coffee Board, Y. Raghuramulu.
The president, UPASI, T.V. Alexander, welcomed the gathering.
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