Small-scale farmers in Wayanad have found a way to ensure a sustainable income and end the exploitation they face in the hands of middlemen.
They are now preparing to launch an organic green tea factory, under the Wayanad Green Tea Producer Company, which is a collective of 147 small-scale tea growers, reports The Hindu. The factory will produce and market affordable speciality tea.
The Tea Board of India has in the past tried to make small-scale tea growers form collectives such as producer-societies or self-help groups (SHG) for sustainable green tea leaf trade, Jose Sebastian, the chief executive officer of NABARD, told the publication.
However, most of the SHGs have to depend on bought-leaf factories in the absence of any processing facilities.
Members of the Small Tea Growers Society at Karadippara and the Karshaka Jyothi Small Tea Growers Society at Vattachola in the district received support from NABARD five years ago. They constituted the farmer-producer company to overcome the exploitation in the sector.
Later they opened the green tea-exclusive factory at the cost of ₹83 lakh. NABARD provided ₹45.80 lakh as assistance the State Industries Department provided a start-up grant of ₹3 lakh.
“Now the farmers are getting only ₹11.50 a kg of green leaf. When the factory starts organic green tea leaf procurement, we can provide ₹30 a kg and incentives to them,” Jose told The Hindu.