Rising coal prices affect tea plantation business: TAI

Leading industry body Tea Association of India (TAI) on Monday flagged the issue of rising coal costs due to acute shortage which is affecting plantation business as it is an important input for manufacturing in North Bengal.

TAI said that since the North Bengal region does not have access to natural gas supplies, which is available in gardens in Upper Assam, this leads to competitive disadvantages for gardens in North Bengal.

On the issue of minimum wage in a labor-intensive industry like tea, sources within the association said that the cost of production due to wages is always higher compared to other industries. other less labour-intensive industries.

Labor cost due to wages is estimated to be nearly 60 percent, which is much lower than other labor-intensive industries, TAI said.

TAI said the West Bengal government, employers and employees have engaged in issues relating to minimum wage setting. Through various submissions made by the industry, the association had urged the government to study the wage structure of tea workers and the industry also had to fulfill separate commitments to the workers in the form of non-monetary payments like the ration , housing, health and education.

Regarding climate change, TAI pointed out that the industry had witnessed a sharp drop in rainfall after October each year, which made plantations susceptible to pest infestations. The association said that to counter this problem, more irrigation facilities should be made available to the tea industry by harnessing advancements in technology.

Tea production in North Bengal had made leaps and bounds, especially by small growers. However, preliminary estimates show that only 4 million kg of tea is exported from North Bengal and there is a need to increase this figure.

Referring to the welfare programs of the government of West Bengal, TAI said the program of providing shelter to workers under the “Cha Sundari” program was a welcome move.

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