Tea Board set to initiate additional steps to ‘eliminate bad teas’

Joseph B. Hash

The Tea Board, which on Thursday announced several measures to ensure that sub-standard teas are not imported and distributed in the country, is set to take more steps to “eliminate bad teas” from the system.

According to PK Bezboruah, Chairman, Tea Board of India, one of the ways to do that would be to stop manufacturing the beverage by November 30 each year because post that the quality of tea starts declining. The Tea Board, exercising the Tea Marketing Control Order, had earlier directed all factories to stop the manufacture of the beverage starting early December to stop production of inferior quality of teas.

“We want to close manufacturing by November 30, but some producers, particularly in upper Assam do not like this suggestion. I feel you can eliminate a lot of substandard teas from the system (if we do this),” Bezboruah said at the 48th biennial general meeting of the Tea Association of India here on Friday.

This apart, he said Tea Board would undertake a regular inspection to ensure that quality parameters are adhered to. Reacting to a BusinessLine report, the Tea Board had on Thursday, directed all importers to ensure that origin of imported tea is mentioned in all their sale invoices and not to pass off imported teas as teas of Indian origin.

The Board also directed all distributors not to blend cheap and inferior quality imported teas with Indian origin for domestic consumption. “There are various other steps that the Board will take to take out bad teas from the system,” he said.

Focus on generic campaign

According to Bezboruah, instead of doling out subsidies, the Tea Board should focus more on channelising the funds allocated towards the generic campaign to promote tea consumption both in the domestic market as well as exports. There is a need to boost consumption and the government, Tea Board, the industry and all other stakeholders should come together to promote tea.

“We need to boost both domestic consumption as well as exports. Though export is only 200 mkg but it acts as a balancing factor,” he said. Bezboruah also felt that either all teas should be routed and sold on auction platforms or auctions should be done away with.

According to him, the present system wherein the manufacturer has to route 50 per cent of the produce through the auctions even while there are no mandatory norms for the buyers to source tea, impacts the price discovery of teas.

“I feel when it comes to auctions it should be either all or nothing. If a buyer does not buy at auction then the prices automatically come down and then these prices are used as a benchmark by buyers at private sales,” he pointed out.

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