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By R. Subrata (TNI Siliguri) | TNI Editing Siliguri
Webdesk, TNI Siliguri 8th September, 2018: The per capita consumption of tea in the domestic market must increase for the overall benefit of the industry and the people at large at as well, according to the State Tourism Minister, Mr. Gautam Deb. “In order to make teas produced in Darjeeling, the Dooars and the Terai in North Bengal a dynamic and sustainable industry and also a steady source of livelihood, all stakeholders need to come on board and work towards increasing their demand in the domestic as well as international market, Mr. Deb told tea industry members last evening at the inaugural session of the two-day 5th India Tea Forum being organized by CII North Bengal Zonal Council in association with the Tea Board of India here. “I call upon CII to play the role of a bridge between the stakeholders in achieving this common goal,” he added. At the inaugural session which was attended by more than 300 stakeholders of the Indian tea industry from across Bengal, other states and even Nepal, Mr. Deb underscored the need for “special attention” given to make this “traditional industry” further growth with “new glory and flavor”. “This is the call of the time. We may have issues and challenges. But please discuss and resolve issues of the existing trade to help change the current atmosphere and condition of the tea business,” he said. “We are working on a mechanism to ensure that not only are workers happy, investors and tea garden owners also find the industry rewarding,” the Tourism Minister said, adding that the Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, has formed a committee under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary to look into problems affecting the tea industry in the state and prepare a list of remedial measures. “The Hon’ble CM has sanctioned Rs 100 crore to support tea industry in the state.
The state government has sanctioned funds for workers, helpers and labourers engaged in the tea industry, which is the highest employment provider in North Bengal.” Mr. Rabindra Nath Ghosh, Minister for North Bengal Development Department, West Bengal, also spoke of the State Government’s resolve to see that the teas produced in the region hit global markets and become household names there. “The State Government will work hand in hand with all stakeholders to achieve the mission,” Mr. Ghosh said. North Bengal, he said, thrives in and is fuelled by 3 Ts – Tea, Tourism & Teamwork. “The State Government is in the process of upgrading infrastructure and is offering incentives to the region conducive to other sectors as well. It is the best time and one of the best times to invest. We assure you that returns will be handsome,” Mr. Ghosh said. “One of the main objectives of the North Bengal Development Department is to help industry members and see North Bengal becomes a thriving business hub. The Government will help you in every possible way,” Mr. Ghosh said. Earlier, Mr. S Soundararjan, Director – Tea Development – and Secretary, Tea Board of India, said that considering the low average tea consumption in Indian markets, the scope of the industry for expansion is immense. “Efforts are under way to see a significant increase in tea consumption,” he said. Mr.. Kamal Kishore Tewari, Chairman of CII North Bengal Zonal Council, said the India Tea Forum which CII has been organizing since 2010 focuses on creating tea entrepreneurs, aside from innovation, value addition, marketing and specialty tea tasting. “CII also aims to deepen stronger synergies between small tea growers, producers, manufacturers and buyers,” he said, adding, “That explains why we have chosen “The NexGen Tea” as the theme of this year’s India Tea Forum.” Mr. Ravi Agarwal, Chair, Tea Panel, CII North Bengal Zonal Council, and Convener, India Tea forum, listed the companies taking part in this year’s Forum. “They include Chai Point, Bangalore, Tea Lounge, Wagh Bakri Tea, Goodricke Group, Tata Global Beverage, Society Tea, Mumbai, Mohani Tea Leaves Pvt Ltd, Kanpur, Girnar Group, Rainforest Alliance, Temi Tea Sikkim, J Thomas, Parcon, Paramount Tea Marketing, Udyan Tea, Siliguri Tea Auction & Guwahati Tea Auction Buyers Association. There are also delegates from Mumbai, Bangalore, Gujarat, Assam, Delhi, Coimbatore, Bengal, Haryana & Punjab,” Mr. Agarwal said.
Photos: CII, Siliguri