Assam launches incentive scheme to boost orthodox, specialty tea production
(Sourced from PTI)
The Assam government rolled out an incentive scheme to boost the production of orthodox and specialty tea, which have high demand in overseas markets and can help planters fetch better prices, on Sunday. Notably, orthodox and specialty tea currently account for about 11% of the state's annual production, while the rest is of CTC variety. Here are more details.
Launching the Assam Tea Industries Special Incentive Scheme (ATISIS), 2020, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma highlighted his government's plans for land reforms of tea estates and enhancing the social security network of workers by gradually taking over the existing health and educational institutions of gardens.
"The primary idea behind this scheme is to establish a balance between the production of CTC tea and orthodox variety. If we can increase the production, we can expand our market share," Sarma said. He added that the manufacturing cost of orthodox tea per kilogram is 20-25% higher than that of CTC variety, and the ATISIS is expected to help bridge this gap.
Under the ATISIS, the state government will provide interest subvention of 3% per annum on working capital loans and a subsidy of Rs. 7 per kg for the production of orthodox and specialty varieties. Moreover, a 25% subsidy for the purchase of new machinery for the production of orthodox and specialty tea would be given.
The agricultural income tax holiday for three years has also been included in the scheme, which was approved by the previous BJP-led state government in October last year. The scheme will be applicable for three years, starting from April 1, 2020.
The Chief Minister said the incentive program will entail an expenditure of Rs. 300 crore per annum, and urged the tea companies to start filing for reimbursement immediately so that the first payments can be made by August. He also announced that Rs. 50 crore would be spent on campaign and publicity for Assam tea in the overseas markets.
Sarma also mooted the idea of appointing an international brand ambassador for Assam tea. He said the state government plans to take reform measures for the maximum use of land in tea gardens and amend existing laws to widen the scope of using such a resource.
To enhance the social security network of the tea garden population, the Chief Minister said that plans are afoot to gradually take over the existing health and educational institutions of estates. Meanwhile, Industries and Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary, Finance Minister Ajanta Neog, Tea Board Chairman Prabhat Bezbaruah, and Indian Tea Association Chairman Vivek Goenka were also present on the occasion.