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Scale up tea exports, says Prabhu

Scale up tea exports, says Prabhu

December 06, 2017


Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu urged the tea industry to focus on boosting exports. “Create export demand... why should neighbouring countries export more tea than India?,” Mr. Prabhu said in a message to the Indian Tea Association (ITA) on its 134th AGM. “Work out a time-bound action plan for increasing exports and we will help you implement it.”Echoing the same thought, Santosh Sarangi, Joint Secretary (plantations), Union Commerce Ministry, said that the industry had to put some thought to craft out its position in the global market place. “Exports have been flat. There is need to scale it up to say around 230 level. You should also think of ways to set up blending and packaging units abroad.”


On the Tea Board’s future (on which there has been some speculation of late), Mr. Sarangi, a former chairman, said that the Tea Board needed to move away from being a body for disbursing subsidies to one that aimed at promoting sustainability, value addition, marketing and R&D.The cost of administering the subsidies far outweighed the quantum given to the industry, he said.He said that recently ₹685 crore had been allocated to the Tea Board for funding schemes on promotion, marketing value-addition and for setting up a blending and packaging unit till 2019-20.ITA chairman Azam Monem identified production and price impediments, workers welfare and wages, climate change mitigation as well as modernisation and sustainability as some of the main challenges facing the sector.


He said that the all-India crop projection for 2017 was estimated at about 1,285 million kg (against 1,267 million kg a year ago). Exports have been at about 200-230 million kg for many years. “There is need to boost exports to about 270 million kg in the immediate term,” he said. He sought government support for increasing India’s export competitiveness and its orthodox tea output.Tea Board Chairman P.K. Bez Baruah said that the small tea-growers were now moving towards a 50% share in India’s total tea output.



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