The Indian Tea Association (ITA) has approached the Tea Board of India to allow the tea plantation companies to manufacture palm oil in tea estate land. “We have asked the Tea Board to see if we can grow palm in our estates and manufacture palm oil. We need a big area for this”, Vivek Goenka, chairman of the ITA, said.
According to Goenka, land use is a state subject and the the respective states can decide how to use land meant for tea cultivation. The tea growing states like West Bengal has already allowed use of tea estate land partially for non tea purposes and Assam is expected to follow suit. “It will benefit the industry greatly since India is a net importer of palm oil to the tune of over Rs. 25,000 crore”, Goenka said.
The association said that Malaysia is incentivising tea growers to switch from tea to palm oil production and the Indian government as well can incentivise the tea growers as well to produce palm oil. The suggestion comes at a time when the tea industry has been complaining of unremunerative tea prices which is affecting the balance sheet of all major tea comapnies and some tea firms are pressing for alternative use of land.