JORHAT, Aug 8 - Addressing hundreds of tea planters at the 78th annual general meeting of the Assam Tea Planers’ Association(ATPA) today in the auditorium of Tea Research Association internationally acclaimed planter Merrill Joseph Fernando of Sri Lanka said that the tea industry of the State and other parts of the country will reap more benefit in the global market if India , Sri Lanka and Indonesia collaborate for an integrated marketing strategy for indigenously produced quality tea.
He said that the tea-brands should be named after the countries with the clear mentioning of the regions where it is produced. As most of the consumers at different countries of the world prefer the tea of India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia the names of the countries should be reflected on the brands to attract them while marketing in the international market.
Sharing his success story of promoting his own brand “Dilmah” (which is globally preferred by the consumers of 104 countries) Fernando inspired the local planters of the State to produce quality tea.
As the cost of production has been growing in the State due to various reasons including the hike in minimum wage of garden-workers, lack of adequate power-supply to the factories and many others, ATPA chairman Raj Barooah highlighted some important issues in his speech at the meeting.
“The biggest rise in wage for Assam tea industry, since our independence, is the 22 per cent negotiated wage hike inked with our unions on February 26, 2015. The tea industry in Assam has not learnt to have economic equilibrium with wage hikes higher than this, ever.
Three fifth of the cost of a tea farm in Assam goes to paying wage bills,” said Barooah.
As the government notification of July 29 this year “suddenly” proposed to increase the wage three-folds Barooah said that there could have been a gradual increase in wage in the last three years rather than in haste.
“This attitude of the Government of Assam towards its tea industry needs to be seriously reflected upon. It is clear that its new policy on wage will increase the wage component of our costs to a limit that will most certainly pull down the curtains of this cornerstone agri-based industry of Assam, forever,” Barooah stated.
Along with many dignitaries the meeting was attended by former chief economic adviser to the Government of India Ashok Lahiri, noted tea planter Prabhat Bezboruah, ATPA’s vice chairman Arun Thekedath,
Debeswar Bora, representatives of ABITA, NETA, Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha and many other organisations of tea growers and stake-holders.