In a bid to relieve the ailing tea industry in Assam, prominent tea producers organisation – North East Tea Association (NETA) – has appealed to the Tea Board of India (TBI) for early issuance of guidelines for tea waste export.

A delegation of the NETA led by its Chairman Nepul Saikia met Deputy Chairman of the TBI in Guwahati on Agust 2 and appealed him to take up some steps including early issuance of guidelines for tea waste export for the benefit of the industry which is suffering due to several reasons.

The delegation also expressed its gratitude for allowing export of tea waste.

“Export of tea waste can be a game changer for tea industry. Tea waste can be used by many other industries including cosmetic industry. We have not yet received any guidelines from the Tea Board in regard to tea waste export. It will be of great help if the guideline is issued at an early date. So we have appealed to the TBI to issue guidelines for export of tea waste at an early date,” said NETA adviser Bidyananda Barkakoty.

He also said that the organisation has appealed to the deputy chairman of TBI either to waive the license for tea waste export or make the renewal of tea waste export license on a three year basis instead of the annual renewal.

“A board meeting of the Tea Board took a decision to recommend to the Commerce Ministry regarding renewal of licence in every three years. There will be ease of doing business if renewal of tea waste licence is not at all required and to start with, at least the validity of tea waste licence should be for three years,” Barkakoty said.

The NETA also appealed to the TBI not to force the tea producers to declare two per cent as tea waste.

“As per the Tea Waste (Control) Order, 1959, we are supposed to declare a minimum of two per cent of our production as tea waste. But we have practically found that the tea waste can be as low as below one per cent and at times may go up to three per cent or more – it all depends upon the fine percentage of green leaf and manufacturing process,” Barkakoty said.

There are over 850 small, medium and large tea gardens in Assam which produce over 650 million kg of tea every year. The gardens in Assam account for 52 per cent of India’s total tea production.

The tea sector, which is also an identity of Assam abroad, is however suffering due to different reasons at present. The Indian Tea Association (ITA) has recently appealed to the government to ban expansion of tea areas at least for five areas and demanded that the government take over PF contributions for the workers for three years to provide immediate relieve to the ailing industry.

The ITA on August 1 issued a public appeal and said that the tea industry is in crisis and that viability of the tea sector is critical for security of employment of million plus workforce. While the average selling price has almost remained static, the average cost of production is increasing, leading to loss.

The appeal noted that government intervention for revival of tea sector is an urgent necessity.

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