DIBRUGARH, July 10 - The 210 bought leaf factories of the State are not getting to buy green tea leaves as a major chunk of the green tea leaves produced by the small tea growers go to the bigger tea companies like McLeod Russel India Limited, Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (Tata), Apeejay Tea Limited, Dhunseri Tea Industries, Gillanders, etc., during the initial months of the harvest. The bigger companies offer better prices.
The bought leaf factories are mainly sustained by the green tea leaves produced by small tea growers as they do not own vast plantations like the tea companies. Thus, they are totally dependent on the small tea growers for survival. The large quantities of purchase made by the tea majors from the small tea growers have practically pushed the State’s bought leaf factories to a state of uncertainty.
The first and the second flush of green tea leaves harvested in the initial months of the year from March to July are in great demand due to its distinctive quality. During these months, the major companies go all out to collect the maximum green tea leaves from the small tea growers. The supply of green tea leaves in the bought leaf factories during this season is minimal.
The All Assam Bought Leaf Tea Manufacturers’ Association and the All India Manufacturers’ Organisation (Tea Division) have alleged that the bulk purchase of green tea leaves from small tea growers by big companies is threatening their survival. “We have already been affected by the discriminatory directive issued by the Central Government regarding sales through public auctions and now the big companies are making us starve,” Chand Gohain, chairman, ABLTMA, told The Assam Tribune.
Gohain added that the big companies were defying all the existing directives of the district administration and purchasing green tea leaves without any proper agreement with the suppliers. “The Government of Assam must take immediate steps to ensure that the big companies purchase green tea leaves as per the cropping pattern of the area and under proper agreements with suppliers, adhering to the guidelines of the local administration. It is annoying that the big companies stop buying leaves from the small tea growers after July on the pretext of poor quality,” he said.
The upper Assam districts of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar, Jorhat and Golaghat have more then 150 bought leaf factories.