In a bid to ensure good quality tea production in the country, the Tea Board of India (TBI) has proposed to map all the tea factories in the category ranging from A to D, with A being the top quality category.
"We propose to map all the tea factories on some of the key parameters. An independent agency will take samples of tea from these factories and certify them with respective categories like A, B, C and D. This will give the factories an identity and ensure the quality production of tea," said Tea Board of India chairman M G V K Bhanu.
"We would request Federation of All India Tea Traders Association (FAITTA) to take up the initiative and form a committee, which will decide the parameters on which the mapping will be made. A part of the cost of this project will be shared by Tea Board," said Bhanu during his address at the inaugural session of the 24th annual general meeting of FAITTA at Anand on Saturday.
Bhanu stressed on the need to spread awareness about the importance of good quality tea among the small tea growers. He also raised concerns about the branding of tea produced at bought leaf factory (BLF) as poor in quality. This causes BLF tea fetch lesser price by about Rs 20 per kg from the average tea price.
"There is a need to make good quality tea in India, otherwise tea consumers will start moving to other beverages like coffee. Not always bought leaf tea is inferior in quality. At least 70 per cent of the bought leaf tea should be brought to auction centers," said Bhanu.
Bhanu raised concern that the number of bought leaf tea growers is rising rapidly. But their production quality remains a big concern.
Speaking on the India's tea consumption, Piyush Desai, chairman, Wagh Bakri Tea and member of FAITTA said, "Tea consumption is nearing at 1000 million kg, while production has crossed 1100 million kg. But we are facing stiff competition with branded coffee like Barista, Cafe Coffee Day and now Starbucks. India's tea consumption has to increase to take on the competition."
Adding further he said, there was a need to relax 100 per cent import duty on tea as tea producers are losing premium category customers. However, Tea Board chairman denied any possibility to consider relaxation in import duty. "We will not encourage imports," he said.
India, which is the largest black tea consumer nation in the world has per capita tea consumption of around 600 grams per annum. Tea production has touched 1126 million kg in 2012, which is likely to increase by 1 per cent in 2013.