Small tea growers suffer after purchase of green leaf stops

By Published On: April 11, 20243.8 min readViews: 1260 Comments on Small tea growers suffer after purchase of green leaf stops
Bought leaf factories demand certificate

Staff Reporter

Guwahati: Small tea growers in the state are suffering due to a sudden decision by bought-leaf factories to stop the purchase of non-certified green leaf  from today. Amidst the prevailing situation, the growers also stopped plucking tea leaves in some districts as the factories almost came to a standstill.

A few days ago,  leaf factories decided not to procure green tea leaves from growers if they did not provide laboratory testing reports, certifying that no banned chemicals or unapproved pesticides were used in growing their tea bushes. They stated that their decision would be applicable starting today (April 1).

Following this, an undesirable situation prevailed among the small tea growers, as the tea season had just started. The decision by the bought leaf factories also led to a scramble among the growers as the only laboratory for testing tea leaves exists at the Tocklai Tea Research Institute in Jorhat. It was considered an impossible task for tea growers from across the state to bring their produce to Jorhat.

The situation came to such a point that all bought leaf factories stopped buying green leaf, and the growers also decided to suspend plucking operations as there were no buyers for their green leaf.

Talking to The Sentinel, secretary of the Jorhat district committee of All Assam Small Tea Growers Association, Krishna Prasad Sharma, said, “From today, bought leaf factories suddenly stopped purchasing green leaf without a lab-testing report. Tea leaf testing facilities only exist at Tocklai, and their capacity is also limited. Moreover, it is impractical and not feasible for small tea growers from other parts of the state to bring samples to Jorhat for testing. Today, we met with officials from Tea Board of India, Jorhat. They informed us that there were no instructions issued by them for mandatory testing and certification of green leaf. The Board only issued directions for the compulsory auction of 100% dust-grade tea, initially for three months. So, we submitted a memorandum to the Board, asking them to resolve the situation. Another memorandum was submitted before the Jorhat DC to ease our suffering. We request the Tea Board and the government to resolve the issue as early as possible.”

Sharma also informed us that they have stopped plucking green leaves in Jorhat district for a period of seven days from today, in view of the current situation.

Meanwhile, the North Eastern Tea Association (NETA) wrote to the Golaghat DC, which read, “We commit to abide by the FSSAI norms and will not accept any green leaves without accompanying test reports from a NABL-accredited lab, effective April 1, 2024. The purpose of testing green tea leaves is not to know MRLs in the leaf but to know if any ‘Detectable Residues of Pesticides’ are present in the green leaf or not. The purpose of testing green tea leaves is to ensure that green tea leaves are free from banned and non-approved pesticides that may later be found in Made Tea.”

As lakhs of local youth are involved in the small tea industry, an early resolution of the prevailing situation is being desired by people concerned about its development.

Our Golaghat correspondent adds: Keen reactions were observed over not purchasing tea leaf from small tea growers by the bought leaf factories in Golaghat district.

In this regard, the All Tai Ahom Students’ Union (ATASU) of Golaghat district unit submitted a memorandum to the District Commissioner (DC) on Monday regarding the purchase and sale of green leaf of small tea growers. The bought leaf factories made the decision to purchase tea leaves only with a banned pesticide-free certificate from the small tea growers. Otherwise, the factories refused to accept the green leaf from tea growers from April 1. It was not possible for all small tea growers to get banned pesticide-free certificate from the concerned authority in such a short time. Most of the small tea growers depend on the green leaf business for their day-to-day lives. In this situation, if the bought leaf factories did not purchase the green leaf tea growers, they would face hardship in running and maintaining their families. In the memorandum, the ATASU president in charge, Pankaj Gogoi, and secretary Dipjyoti Tamuli demanded that the District Commissioner look into the matter and take initiative to continue the process of selling and purchasing the green leaf as usual without hampering the small tea growers. Further, they also demanded a stop to the sale of banned pesticides in the market.

 Also Read: Dibrugarh: Assam Bought Leaf Tea Manufacturers Association (ABLTMA) holds general meeting to oppose auctions (sentinelassam.com)


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