Tea processing unit setup in Tripura to benefit small tea growers

Tea processing unit setup in Tripura to benefit small tea growers

Submitted by alvin on Thu, 2016-05-19 13:43 Brahmakunda (Tripura): Till a few years back people even did not dared to visit these area during the day time but with waning of insurgency from the state of Tripura, things have drastically changed here and developmental activities have again reactivated. The worst sufferer of more than three decade tribal insurgency in Tripura has been the poor tribal people living especially in the remote areas, but not with peace people are getting benefit and actively participating in the developmental activities. One of best instance of this is the setting up of a tea processing unit in remote bordering Brahmakunda village, around 50 km north of capital Agartala, and which was once considered den of militants. Several tea gardens have been predominantly found in this area and it was the main source of employed of a larger section of people. But during early nineties due to growing tension of insurgency most of the garden owners had either stopped visiting and caring for their tea estate as were facing loss in the tea business leading to a large section of tea labours engaged in the gardens migrated from the area out of fear or in search of alternate job. The worst sufferer of insurgency has been the tea labours and their families who not only lost their livelihood and were living in misery but also their shelter. Many of the tea gardens ceased their activities and in absence of production of tea leaves three estate factories had closed down in the area. However, things started changing from end of the last decade, insurgency started gradually waning out of Tripura and people started returning back to their original place and trade. Thus the tea gardens in Brahmakunda also started rejuvenating by getting the attention of the owners and care of the workers, beside many locals started producing green leaf in their backyard tea gardens. The situations finally transformed and at present the West Tripura district produces around 117.45 lakh kgs green leaf daily of which 33.87 percent comes from the small tea growers. But the absence of tea processing unit within the periphery was the biggest hurdle for these growers as they had to pay big amount for transporting the green leaf to factories at long distance and which reduced the price leaf and was a loss for the producers. To address the inadequate tea processing infrastructure, especially for the small tea growers and workers cooperative tea estate the Tripura Tea Development Corporation (TTDC) under the state government installed a modernized factory at Brahmakunda. Setup at a cost of Rs 8.35 crores, with around half the amount as financial assistance from the North East Council (NEC), Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar on Tuesday inaugurated the modernized central tea processing factory. Sarkar inspected the factory along with Industry and Commerce Minister Tapan Chakraborty and other dignitaries. The Chief Minister appealed to the private tea garden owners of the state to invest in the sector by setting up processing factories and assured all help from the government. "The private garden owners should also start factories. In our state there are owners who runs few tea gardens, some of them have set up factory but there are others who are not interested in investing for setting up factory. To them our appeal will be that we are setting factories and in the similar manner you also setup factory and if required we shall help if there is any scope for that and we can discuss on it," said Sarkar. The factory shall not only benefit the small tea grower of the area by reducing their transportation cost but also give better price for the green leaf. Beside the factory is also going to provide direct employment to at least fifty persons most of who will be engaged from that area. The new factory leased to a local entrepreneur for four years has a production capacity of five lakh Kg of made tea annually and it has been estimated that TTDC will get revenue of around 20 lakh annually from it. This is the centenary year celebration of tea plantation in Tripura that started during the royal times. The first tea plantation was done in the year 1916 at Hirachera in North Tripura. At present there are 54 tea estates beside 4346 small tea growers in Tripura and the state earns revenue of Rs 88.33 lakh out of tea annually. (ANI)