Tea industry to seek IIT-G help to overcome labour shortage

Supratim Dey / Kolkata/ Guwahati August 9 : To overcome the problem of labour shortage, which has been “pinching” it hard of late, the tea industry of Assam will soon knock the doors of IIT-Guwahati to help it introduce more mechanisations into its activities. The tea industry has zeroed in on two-pronged approach to overcome the labour shortage problem, said Bidyananda Barkakoty, Chairman of North Eastern Tea Association (NETA). Besides introducing more mechanisations into its activities, the tea industry will soon approach the Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) ministry to set up a skill development and training institute in Assam to impart skill based training both among blue and white collar workers. “Shortage of labour is going to be a major challenge for the tea industry. We have already started to feel the pinch. Absenteeism has already been an area of concern,” Barkakoty said. He said that though absenteeism among labourers was affecting tea production, shortages in many gardens had been felt even without absenteeism. “We have taken up the issue with Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) at several meetings,” added Barkakoty. The tea industry wants machines indigenously designed and developed based on the local conditions. “Research and Development (R&D) on mechanical harvesting, pruning and other field operations is the need of the hour. There are some existing machines made in Germany, Japan, China and other foreign countries. If the machines can be designed and developed indigenously based on the local conditions, then the cost of machines will come down to a considerable extent and will be more user friendly. We will seek the help of IIT Guwahati in this regard,” said Barkakoty. He also stressed that tea, being a labour intensive industry, skill development at all levels had been lagging behind, thereby adversely affecting production, productivity and livelihood enhancement.