Assam tea to get a leg-up

GUWAHATI: In order to set quality benchmark and attract global buyers to quality tea, the Assam government will initiate two-pronged certification measures. Under this method, tea gardens will be graded on the basis of manufacturing practices adopted and price realised at auction sale.

In the first phase, certification will be done on the price realised at the auction sale and in the second phase, factories will be placed under four broad categories 1 star, 2 star, 3 star and 4 star for easy recognition of prospective buyers as to what type they are buying.

Assam industry minister Pradyut Bordoloi, along with chairman of Tea Board Basudeb Banerjee held a meeting with several members of the tea industry here recently.

Mr Bordoloi told ET: "Guwahati tea auction centre will move over to 100% e-auctioning of CTC variety of tea from January next year. Currently 100% e-auctioning of tea in dust variety takes place. We are also initiating a method for grading and qualification by third party."

Sources in the government said that in the first phase, around 20% of Assam valley and 10% of Cachar valley of both bought leaf and state factories, which have been in the bottom sector of sales in three consecutive auctions will be identified. Then, identification will be done on brand name of the bottom sale price with concerned tea factories.
Sources added that the list of factories will be issued notice to identify the reasons for not receiving good price and take steps immediately to improve the quality with six months. A panel consisting of experts from Tea Research Association of India (TRA), North East Institute of Science and Technology, Assam Agriculture University and representatives of tea brokers will advise and guide the factories.

"The price of the factories will again be reviewed after six months and in case the factory concerned does not improve from the bottom level, the expert panel will visit the factory. Another two months will be given to the factory to improve. However, if the quality does not improve in 8 months, the factory will be deregistered," sources informed.
Tea Association of India secretary Dipanjol Deka observed that certification will assist in improving the overall quality. This method will also help in doing away with inferior tea. Under the e-auctioning in CTC category, buyers anywhere can bid. Price realization and exposure to buyers globally will be better."

In the second phase, accreditation will be done for tea gardens and it will be mandatory for tea gardens. This will be carried out by accredited rating agency. This phase will commence one year after the commencement of phase 1.
Under this, samples will be picked up randomly from the auction sale and necessary testing grade will be awarded. Besides this, parameters like manufacturing standard, quality of raw material, condition of factory and machinery, hygiene standards, mode of disposal of made tea, handling of tea waste, price settlement mechanism with small tea growers and usage of energy etc will be taken into consideration.