Press Trust of india

Mamata urges factories not to stop buying green leaves from small tea growers

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

Jalpaiguri (WB): West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday urged bought leaf factories (BLFs) to continue buying green leaves from small tea growers and asserted that the issue relating to compliance with food safety norms will be addressed by the state administration after the Lok Sabha elections.

Speaking to reporters during her visit to north Bengal, the chief minister said that small tea growers (STGs) used to sell green leaves to factories which have suddenly stopped procuring from them as they decided to source only FSSAI-compliant tea which is safe for consumption.

“Small tea growers produce green leaves on their own land up to five bighas and sell to the factories. Nearly 10 lakh people are involved in this activity. I request them to continue with the production and we will talk with scientists after the elections on the pesticides issue which had been flagged by the Tea Board and other authorities and come out with a solution,” Banerjee said.

She also requested the administration of north Bengal to see that green leaf buying is not stopped by BLFs.

“This is purely on humanitarian grounds and nothing political. This is a case of sustenance of livelihood of so many tea growers and their families,” the chief minister said.

Banerjee claimed that small tea growers had not given any time to rectify them and the BLFs have abruptly stopped the purchase of green leaves which do not comply with the food safety norms.

The North Bengal Tea Producers Welfare Association had on March 29 written to the Tea Board, stating that BLFs would only manufacture tea which is compliant with the norms of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

BLFs had taken the decision that they would buy only FSSAI-compliant tea from STGs from April 1, a move which has been opposed by the latter.

STGs in the state have written to Banerjee about the “unilateral and autocratic” decision of BLFs to procure only green leaves which meet the compliance standards of the food safety regulator and maximum residue level (MRL) parameters.

In the letter to the chief minister, the West Bengal United Forum of Small Tea Growers Association and other similar bodies of north Bengal, said that there are nearly 50,000 small growers which are operational in the region, and close to ten lakh people are either directly or indirectly involved in the trade.

Confederation of Indian Small Tea Growers Associations president and Jalpaiguri District Small Tea Growers Association general secretary Bijoy Gopal Chakraborty said, “It is not simply possible for small growers to comply with the requirements in such a short time. We have already started educating the growers on ‘safe tea’ and it will take time.”

The body of STGs, in the letter to the chief minister, also said that growers are now plucking first flush tea after a gap of three winter months.

Tea trade unions have also expressed their concern over the move of BLFs to discontinue the purchase of tea which is not FSSAI-compliant.

On the repair of houses which had been damaged by the recent cyclone in Jalpaiguri, the chief minister said the state government has sought permission from the Election Commission to rebuild the houses of those affected by the natural calamity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *