The Tea Board’s average price set for payment to tea small growers has been drastically reduced. The Board has set a price of ₹13.67 per kg as the average price that leaf factories must pay to small growers when purchasing green leaves this month.
According to Tea Board Executive Director Dr. M Balaji IAS, this price was determined in accordance with Section 30A of the Tea Marketing Control Order (TMCO) based on the consolidated auction sale average of CTC teas from purchased leaf factories in October.
He has directed that all purchased leaf factories adhere to this price when purchasing green leaf from farmers this month. He has directed all Tea Board field officials to ensure that no bought leaf tea factory in their territory is paid less than this month’s average price.
This is not only the lowest price for any month this year but also the lowest since April 2020, when the price was ₹12.19 per kilogram. It is as much as ₹10.25 less per kg when compared to November of last year – a staggering 42.85% decrease. It is ₹1.07 less per kg, or 7.26% less than last month.
Given that four kilograms of green leaf are typically purchased to produce one kilogram of finished tea, farmers will now receive up to ₹40 cents less per kilogram of finished tea than this time last year, or ₹4 cents less than last month.
‘The small growers are dissatisfied. TMCO has been amended nine times in the last 17 years, but it still does not ensure decent price sharing between factories and small farmers. Setting a standard price for each planting district does not help farmers,’ Dr. S Ramu, former Tea Board member and founder President of the Small Tea Growers’ Association of Southern India (STASI), told.
‘We have asked the Union Government to take actions to direct factories to pay a reasonable price to small tea growers and to set a floor price at auction centers, as Kenya recently did. Because, while TMCO was established to ensure a fair price sharing formula, as it is in Sri Lanka, the reasonable price’ factor has been overlooked in India,’ Ramu added.
He stated that a national convention on ‘Post-Pandemic Policy for Tea Development’ will be held in January 2022 to address this and other concerns raised by growers.