Postpone 100 pc auction for dust tea, Assam govt urges Center

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Postpone 100 pc auction for dust tea, Assam govt urges Center

The Assam government has appealed to the Center to reconsider the implementation of selling 100% dust grade tea through public auction, citing potential challenges that could affect the livelihood of tea growers in the state.

According to a gazette notification issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry on February 23, 100 per cent of dust grade tea produced from tea plantations in North India in a calendar year has been mandated to be sold through public tea auctions, which is effective from April 1. 2024.

However, this directive does not cover small tea factories.

In a letter addressed to Sunil Barthwal, Secretary of the Department of Commerce, Ravi Kota, Chief Secretary of Assam, expressed concerns about the impact of this notification on the tea industry, particularly small tea growers and other stakeholders.

Kota emphasized that the implementation of the directive could pose significant challenges, affecting the livelihoods of tea growers and associated stakeholders.

The letter urged Barthwal to prioritize issuing appropriate orders considering the best interests of the tea industry in Assam and the welfare of small tea growers.

Assam, being the largest tea-producing state in the country, has approximately 10 lakh workers directly employed in the tea industry, along with over 1.25 lakh small tea growers. These small tea growers contribute around 48% of the total green tea leaves produced in the state.

The North-Eastern Tea Association (NETA) objected to the mandated 100% auction of dust tea, arguing that the government cannot guarantee price realization and the time taken for sale through auction. NETA stated that producers should have the autonomy to sell their produce in a manner they find suitable.

NETA emphasized the financial burden on producers, who are responsible for paying timely wages to workers and purchasing green leaves from small tea growers. The association highlighted the risk of social unrest if there are disruptions or uncertainties in cash flow.

Bidyananda Barkakoty, adviser of NETA, pointed out that many producers avoid public auctioning due to its inefficiency which results in limited buyers and unfair prices for producers.

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