Tripura, which has scaled the pan-India public distribution management system from fifth to the second position in a year, is now marching extended PDS services with plans to distribute its Tripureswari Tea brand through fair price shops.
Tripura Tea Development Corporation (TTDC) chairman Santosh Saha told reporters here on Tuesday that they had discussed the development of Tripura tea, which is produced under Tripureswari Tea brand, with the state’s food, civil supplies, and consumer affairs minister Manoj Kanti Deb and had decided to distribute the tea through fair price shops. As a pilot project, they would start distributing the tea in 231 fair shops across the Agartala Municipal Corporation (AMC) at a price of Rs 17 per 100gm.
Giving details of TTDC’s achievement in the past year, Saha said in 2017 the state had produced 1.53 lakh kg of tea while it produced 2.91 lakh kg in 2018-19. “We have set a target of 4.50 lakh kg by the end of this year. The new (BJP-IPFT) government has taken a series of initiatives to develop the state’s tea industry,” he said.
He said that while the erstwhile Left Front government had damaged the prospects of the tea industry by turning most of the gardens “sick”, the incumbent government was making efforts to revive the estates.
Saha said TTDC would soon sign a memorandum of understanding with the Tripura Natural Gas Company Limited (TNGCL) to start gas-based tea production. “Since there is a crisis of coal, we have decided to produce tea by using gas. Gas-based tea processing is technically more efficient and cleaner,” he said.
Saha said chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb had written to commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal on August 8 to take up the export of Tripura tea with the Bangladesh government.
The tea industry in Tripura is over 100 years old. Tea cultivation had started at Hiracherra tea estate in the present Unakoti district in 1916. However, the industry hasn’t really picked up in the national arena so far. Initiatives to boost the tea sector started a couple of years back here by designing a logo and branding Tripura tea.
Tripura has 58 operational gardens, of which 42 are individually owned, three are run by TTDC and 13 are operated under cooperative societies. Most of these tea estates produced orthodox tea till 2000 but moved on to CTC after the millennium. With a bit of prodding from the Tea Board and marketing assistance, many of these gardens are now moving to orthodox tea production.
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