Kolkata, May 17 (IANS) Small tea growers are expecting to get benefits from the Rs 400 crore outlay, approved by the Centre under the "Tea Development and Promotion Scheme" proposed by the Tea Board India, an official said on Thursday.
However, cash-crunch Darjeeling tea planters do not see any major benefits from the scheme.
The Centre, recently, approved Rs 394.85 crore proposal of the Tea Board India for the three-year programme starting from 2017-18 to 2019-20.
"The small tea growers are welcoming the scheme. A number of new initiatives including the support for setting up of Farmers' Producers organisations (FPO) and mini factories will help us," Confederation of Indian Small Tea Growers Association (CISTA) President Bijoy Gopal Chakraborty told IANS.
He said members of the small growers' organisation contribute nearly 47 per cent of the country's total tea production.A
The three-year scheme has several components including plantation development; quality upgradation and product diversification, market promotion both domestic and international, research and development, human resource development, and National Programme for Tea Regulation.
An amount of Rs 83.25 crore has been set aside for pending liabilities under these components.
Darjeeling Tea Association's Secretary General Kaushik Basu said: "The approved outlay does not suffice the requirements. Many schemes for organised planters, which were earlier available, were stopped. Such a paltry amount will not help us immensely," Darjeeling Tea Association's Secretary General Kaushik Basu told IANS.
As per the proposal, Tea Board has earmarked a corpus of Rs 136.48 crore for big and small tea growers for plantation development. The scheme will provide funds for replanting and replacement planting, rejuvenation pruning, irrigation, mechanisation and assistance to self help groups.
Special packages have also been proposed for the small tea growers of North East, Idukki, Kangra and Uttaranchal.
An outlay of Rs 46.31 crore would be utilised under quality upgradation and product diversification. This will provide for value addition by way of creating additional infrastructure for cleaning, blending, colour sorting and packaging of tea.
This fund would also be deployed for setting up of specialty tea units towards product diversification for production of green tea, orthodox and instant tea.
The scheme has allotted Rs 58.87 crore for promotion of tea both in domestic as well as international markets.