Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, Sep 17 (UNI) Union Commerce Minister Kamal Nath today announced constitution of a tripartite committee to fix the minimum support price for tea to benefit small tea growers in Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu.
Talking to newspersons after inaugurating the 114th conference of United Plantation Association of Southern Region here, he said the committee, comprising Tea Board, Government and small tea growers would be set up within a couple of weeks and it would announce the minimum support price in quick time.
''We do not want to set any time limit for the committee to announce the price. It will announce the minimum support price for the benefit of small tea growers very soon,'' he said.
Ruling out Centre providing any direct subsidy to the small tea growers, Mr Kamal Nath said providing subsidy was not a sustainable approach. On the other hand, the government could be a facilitator, he said, adding that the Centre was interested in adopting a cluster approach, implementing various schemes to benefit the small tea growers.
He said the Centre had agreed in principle that there should be a ''price package'' for small tea growers, who constituted only five per cent about 13 years ago, but has now grown to 22 per cent. The Government realised the need to protect their interests, Mr Kamal Nath said.
Asked whether the Government proposed to bring tea under the Essential Commodity Act, he said at present, the government felt it was not necessary. However, if warranted in future, the Government would take a decision, he added.