The quality of tea output in Assam, which produces over 50% of India’s favourite brew, may deteriorate if the central government does not withdraw one particular eligibility condition related to exports for tea factories to avail Quality Upgradation and Product Diversification Scheme (QUPDS) under the 12th Five Year Plan, North Eastern Tea Association (NETA) said on Friday.
Accordingly, NETA has urged Union commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman to relax or exempt that condition out of the twenty-two eligibility conditions for availing the most popular QUPDS in the greater interest of the tea industry and the trade.
In a letter sent to Sitharaman, Bidyananda Barkakoty, chairman, NETA, said due to the condition no.21, which requires a tea factory to provide a documentary proof that it has exported 20% of the total produce made in the application year, it would be almost impossible for 90% of tea factories (both estate factory and bought leaf tea factory) in Assam to avail the QUPDS.
The government in May this year had announced the the approval of Rs 1,425 crore for the Tea Board’s scheme “Tea Development & Promotion Scheme” for implementation during the 12th Five year Plan (2012-2017). And Rs. 350 crore, i.e about 25% of the total outlay for the plan period, was earmarked for QUPDS.
“We appreciate that the above said condition has been incorporated to increase exports from our country. But in our country, 80% teas are exported by merchant exporters and only 20% by producer exporters. Therefore, a better scheme for merchant exporters may increase exports from our country,” Barkakoty said in the letter.
“We fear that if we are not able to avail of the QUPD Scheme then the quality of Assam Tea may deteriorate…Moreover, we have only few months left to avail the scheme. The duration of the scheme is till March 31, 2017; however, the receipt of applications will be closed on October 31, 2016,” he added.