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Small tea growers’ body begins survey for TRINITEA

Fading frenzy There was initial euphoria that the crop would be higher this season, as against last year. This had a dampening effect on prices

The Small Tea Growers’ Association of Southern India (STASI) has started a survey to enlist the support to the newly-formed TRINITEA, a small grower initiative of Solidaridad and Indian Tea Association.

“The STASI, which works with 112 societies comprising about 15,000 grower-members, has already started the initial survey for the use of TRINITEA. It has been discovered that the growers want TRINITEA to become a core platform to promote the sustainability of tea farming at village level with the necessary interlinking with the schemes of the Tea Board and other institutions,” STASI’s Founder President S Ramu told BusinessLine.

Ramu, a former member of the Tea Board, presented a position paper at the meeting held in Kolkata last week to launch TRINITEA. He highlighted the perspective of the small growers in South India, especially The Nilgiris which accounts for the bulk of them.

“The nearly one lakh tea small growers in The Nilgiris are expecting the TRINITEA programme to fetch them a sustainable, steady and remunerative return for the tea green leaf they supply to the factories,” Ramu said.

“The biggest challenge faced in the Nilgiris is the migration of the small growers to other districts in search of income because tea has become unremunerative. The growers have abandoned their estates and are working as labourers in textile shops, restaurants, etc in the plains. This situation has to change with better income avenues for them. So, I urged TRINITEA to bring about a ‘reverse migration’ of these growers by engaging them in sustainable production of quality green leaf required for companies and bought leaf as also INDCO factories,” he disclosed.

“Even as of now, nearly 0.3 million kg of green leaf from the small grower sector in the district is being bought by corporate sector every day. This means, the corporate sector is buying as much as 100 million kg of green leaf from the small growers annually. That is exactly why TRINITEA can play a vital role in transforming the lives of tea small growers and bring about the reverse migration in The Nilgiris and simultaneously ensure the supply of quality, safe and secured green leaf to the Companies. This, in turn, will help small growers get reasonable price for their green leaf and the factories get quality raw material at an affordable price,” Ramu said.

“The biggest lacuna faced by small growers is the absence of regular training and demonstrations because of the closure of the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) earlier run by the United Planters’ Association of Southern India (Upasi). Consequently, the TRINITEA can play a role almost like the KVK and help with regular technical knowledge sharing with the small growers through training programmes and demonstrations and other extension programmes,” said Ramu who was the head of UPASI-KVK.

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