A day long convention for the benefit of the small tea growers was held at Golaghat District Library auditorium in Golaghat District of Assam on 11th June'2012. More than 800 participants from all over Assam had participated in the convention. The Golaghat convention followed the one after Tezpur, as part of the various small grower initiatives taken up by the Tea Board. The convention was organized by Tea Board, Regional Office of Jorhat, under guidance from office of the Executive Director, Tea Board, NE Zonal Office, Guwahati.
The Chief Guest at the Convention was Mr. M. G. V. K. Bhanu, IAS, Chairman, Tea Board. Among other dignitaries present were Mr D. Sarma, Board Member (now Vice-Chairman, Tea Board), Mr H. Bora, ex-MLA, Board Member, Tea Board, Mr. Sarat Saikia, Cabinet Secretary, Govt of Assam, Mr A. Rajkhowa, Member, Tea Board, Mr G. Boriah, Director of Tea Development, Tea Board, Mr R. Saini, Executive Director, Tea Board, NE Zonal Office, Guwahati, Dr. N. Muraleedharan, Director I/c TRA, Mr S. K. Gohain Baruah, ACS, Deputy Commissioner, Golaghat, Mr G. Saikia, Founder Secretary, All Assam Small Tea Growers Association (AASTGA), Mr A. Baruah, president, AASTGA, and Mr B. G. Chakraborty, President, CISTA.
At the outset, each of the small tea growers/participants were presented with an I-card and a kit containing a handbag, note book, pen, two CDs on Plucking and Spraying, and a special note on usage of pesticides. The exhibition was inaugurated by the Chairman, Tea Board. Some senior members of the Small Tea Grower section of Golaghat and Karbi Anglong District, were felicitated. Among other Dignitaries, Chairman, Tea Board also addressed the gathering.
Though the small grower segment is very important to the tea industry as they produce more that 25% of the total production, the Tea Board acknowledges the fact that this segment has several problems which need to be addressed. Accordingly, a separate Directorate for the Small Tea Growers will be established soon, the Chairman informed.
One of the major problems of the small tea growers is the realization of green leaf price, which is at the mercy of the factory owners. To address this issue, factories need to be set up by co-operatives or Self Help Groups consisting of Small tea Growers. Necessary relaxation in this regard from Tea Board's side would be done at the earliest, the Chairman said.
To address the problem of manpower shortage, Tea Board would provide subsidy for items like mechanical harvester. The process of registration for small tea growers would also be speeded up
The second half of the convention was mainly technical with Invitees/faculties from various institutions sharing knowledge on various aspects of tea. Among the persons who had conducted the technical sessions were:
Dr. B. P. Baruah, Head, Small Tea Growers Advisory Cell, TRA
Dr. M. Taparia, Visiting faculty, Dept of Tea Husbandry and Technology, AAU
Mr. Bijoy Gopal Chakraborty, President, CISTA
Mr. R. Bhuyan, Project Manager, IIPM, Jorhat Centre
The meeting ended with a direct interaction session among the Small Tea Growers, Mr G. Boriah, Director of Tea Development, and Mr R. Saini, IDSE, Executive Director, Tea Board, NE Zone.