Rs 230 Cr earmarked for growth of quality tea

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Kolkata, Mar 20 (UNI) The Centre has earmarked Rs 230 crore for the 11th 5-year-plan period for growth of quality tea, especially the orthodox variety, and modernisation of tea research centres in the country, Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh said today.

Rs 100 crore would go for growing and developing orthodox variety as there were few takers of CTC variety, Mr Ramesh told a news conference.

He said the government has set a target to increase production and export of orthodox variety in the next five years.

Of the total export percentage of 32, only eight per cent share for orthodox variety, has major demand in overseas market, particularly Russia, Mr Ramesh said.

India produces about 950 million kgs of tea annually. Of the total production only 80 million kgs of orthodox tea was produced resulting in falling of shipment as there were few takers of CTC variety.

Mr Ramesh said the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs in its meeting on March 13 had earmarked Rs 230 crore for the next five years for development and modernisation of tea production.

Another Rs 87 crore has been set aside for research and modernisation of tea facilities and Rs 37 crore for infrastructure development and replacement of old bushes, added Mr Ramesh.

The minister said Rs 800 crore has been earmarked for tea segment in the 11th five-year-plan period, an increase of Rs 450 crore from the 10th plan period.

He also mentioned Finance Minister P Chidambaram budget proposals for 2008-09 saying Rs 20 crore was sanctioned for research and development of Assam's Tockla tea research facility in Jorhat.

Mr Ramesh also announced for setting up a tea research centre at Nagrakata in Jalpaiguri, North Bengal, for development and growth of tea. Another Rs 5 crore for reserach centre in Darjeeling, as Bengal's share was one fourth of the total tea output in India.

He also said efforts were on to reopen or handover the closed tea gardens in North Bengal.

Of the fourteen closed tea estates in North Bengal, one was already reopened, some were in litigation statge in the court of law and three were on various stages of reopening, Mr Ramesh said.

Mr Ramesh said that buyers for closed Kathalguri, Ramjhora and Samsing tea estates had been identified.

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