The Assam-based tea industry association - North Eastern Tea Association (NETA), has taken strong exception of the recent statements made by Indian Tea Association (ITA) with regard to Assam tea industry, which appeared in media on June 25. According to it, ITA's statements have "hurt the sentiments of people of Assam", besides "bringing down the image" of Assam tea.
The comments and statements were made by ITA chairman, AN Singh, and were widely covered by media, including Business Standard. "Some of the statements made by the ITA, which represents mainly the corporate sector large tea estates, were highly objectionable and an insult to indigenous tea growers, small tea estate owners and bought leaf factory (BLF) owners of Assam. Their statements have sent bad signals across the country and have damaged the image of Assam Tea," said Bidyananda Barkakoty, chairman of NETA.
Barkakoty claimed that ITA made a statement that small tea growers (STGs) of Assam produced "poor quality tea leaves" and those were processed at various standalone tea factories, also known as bought-leaf factories (BLFs). "By blaming the STGs and BLFs for poor quality and cheaper varieties, ITA has in fact brought down the image of Assam Tea in general. Since ITA does not represent the BLF sector, therefore, they have no right to blame that particular sector for manufacturing poor quality teas. No one can generalise it." He added: "There are many BLFs making fantastic teas and selling at a much better price than corporate sector tea estates. Similarly, there are many corporate sector tea estates making good teas. No one should further their interests at the cost of others, which may backfire at times. Does Tea Board have any such data which will prove that it is only the BLFs which produce poor quality teas with the poor quality leaf supplied by STGs," asked Barkakoty.