Rs49 crore provided for revival of tea gardens: government

The government has provided financial assistance of Rs48.69 crore as subsidy under the Special Purpose Tea Fund (SPTF) scheme so far since the inception of the scheme (from 1 April 2007 to 30 November 2009).

The SPTF fund has so far been used for replantation and rejuvenation of 9,902 hectares and 3,685 hectares respectively, a government release said.

The SPTF has been set up with the objective of large-scale replanting/rejuvenation of old tea bushes for improving production and productivity. The government has identified approximately of 2.12 lakh hectares of uneconomic tea areas for replanting/ rejuvenation.

The 11th five-year plan envisages replanting in 56,795 hectares and rejuvenation of 14,075 hectares, respectively, of old and uneconomic tea gardens in the country. The scheme offers 25 per cent subsidy of the unit cost of revival to be provided by the government and a loan that covers 50 per cent of the cost of revival. This limits the financial burden on the beneficiaries to 25 per cent.

The country produced 90.53 million kg of tea in November 2009, up from 89.65 million kg in the same month in the previous year. India's tea exports rose 23 per cent to 19.2 million kg against 15.6 million kg in November 2008. 
Revival and rejuvenation of tea estates is key to raising tea exports from the country, according to the Tea Board. The progress of the scheme has been slack so far and the board expects it to pick up momentum in the current fiscal.