Gogoi urges tea growers to reduce dependence on one industry

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Kolkata, July 26 (UNI) Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today called upon the tea growers in Assam not to depend solely on one industry and utilise the fallow land in and around tea gardens to build other industries.

During the 125th annual general meeting of Indian Tea Association (ITA) here, Mr Gogoi said, '' Tea growers should diversify into other industries. Infrastructure is there to diversify into other industries. Exemption from income tax and excise duty is also available under the Northeast Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy, 2007. '' He urged the tea growers to lessen their dependence on one industry and said, '' Indian tea industry employs directly over one million workers, women constituting 50 per cent of the workforce. It generates income and livelihood, directly and indirectly, for more than ten million people. '' Indian Tea Association chairman Basudeb Banerjee also asked tea growers in Darjeeling to use the vast tract of fallow land within the tea gardens to plant trees or help in afforestation.

Tea producing countries had decided to form an international tea producers' forum under Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN to keep a watch on the quality and quantity of tea production, coordinate with each other on scientific research of tea, marketing efforts and put up a united front in most international matters, Mr Banerjee said.

The Union Government had approved a rehabilitation package for closed tea gardens during the 11th five-year plan, Mr Banerjee said.

Mr Banerjee said the State Government had also announced assistance for the affected workers of the closed and abandoned tea gardens in West Bengal.

He hoped with close cooperation and understanding from all stake holders, the closed tea gardens would soon be reopened.

The Centre had recently launched a special purpose Tea Fund for financing tea companies to undertake replanting and rejuvenation activities, he added.

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