Tourism Minister K. Ramachandran has appealed to small tea growers from across the Nilgiris to only harvest high quality tea to ensure profitability for tea manufacturers and growers.
The Minister was attending a discussion with the stakeholders on challenges in the tea industry organised by the Tea Board of India in Coonoor on Tuesday.
Mr. Ramachandran said that the most number of small farmers in India were in the Nilgiris, out of which around 60% are small tea growers. The discussion was held to find a solution to the problems faced by small tea growers, who complain about a lack of fair prices for their produce, he said.
The Minister said that while training programmes, machinery, rebates and fertilizers were being provided to tea growers by the government, the farmers should harvest only good quality tea, which will ensure that factories can produce teas that fetch higher prices in the market. He assured farmers’ of support from the government.
He said that the government was also intent on convincing farmers to take up organic farming in the Nilgiris. “While Sikkim was the first State in India to adopt organic farming, more and more farmers in the Nilgiris are also adopting organic farming,” said Mr. Ramachandran.
He said that Rs.50 crore had been earmarked to implement organic farming in the district, with plans to set aside a substantial amount of the funds for tea manufacturing using organic methods.
In 2022-2023, food safety officials filed 11 cases against persons for selling or manufacturing adulterated tea, he said, adding that fines amounting to Rs.1.62 lakh have been enforced on violators. Fines amounting to Rs.52,500 were also enforced on sellers for selling bad quality tea, he said, adding that the district administration and food safety department were continuing to act against people adulterating tea.
Also present at the event was M. Muthukumar, Executive Director of the South India Zonal Office of the Tea Board of India.